GUILTY! Republican Huckster Admits To Election Fraud

For several years now, Republicans have been engaged in a prolonged and determined campaign to suppress the votes of citizens whom they believe are inclined to vote for Democrats. They pretend that their mission is to prevent election fraud, even though they can’t document more than a handful of cases. So why is it that almost every time actual election fraud is uncovered, it happens to be by Republicans?

Today a bona fide example of criminal election activity has emerged in the form of a guilty plea by Republican author and filmmaker, Dinesh D’Souza. D’Souza admitted in court that he unlawfully reimbursed friends who made donations to a New York senatorial candidate saying that he “knew that causing a campaign contribution to be made in the name of another was wrong and something the law forbids.”

Fox News - D'Souza

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In the harsh glare of the courtroom light, D’Souza is singing a very different tune. Earlier this year, when the charges were brought against him, he complained that he was being singled out for his anti-Obama writing and films. The news of his indictment stirred an outpouring of support from conservative media who alleged that President Obama was behind this political plot to silence his critics. D’Souza appeared several times on Fox News to assert his victimhood but, curiously, came short of asserting his innocence. He did, however, tell Sean Hannity that the prosecution may be “payback” by Obama for his aggressively negative, although thinly researched and easily debunked, screeds against the President. And Hannity was not alone in his defense of D’Souza. The lie-riddled Fox Nation website featured a commentary by Charles Hurt of Breitbart News that literally excused D’Souza’s crimes, even if it turned out that he were guilty – which we now know that he is.

Federal law includes sentencing guidelines that could result in a prison term of ten to sixteen months. D’Souza’s attorney, however, plans to ask the judge to waive any jail time because he says that his client is a “fundamentally honorable man” who had committed an “isolated instance of wrongdoing.” That’s if you consider someone whose books and films have been proven to be filled with lies, and who was forced to resign as the dean of a Catholic university because of marital infidelity, to be fundamentally honorable. It’s also difficult to regard paying off four different people to be an isolated instance of wrongdoing. But that’s the Republican perspective on law and order. It’s only really a crime if a Democrat does it.

You’ll Never See This IRS/Tea Party Story On Fox News

Ever since recidivist criminal Darrell Issa (R-Mouthbreather) began his inquisition against President Obama, he has repeatedly tried to poison public opinion by selectively releasing information intended to cast a negative pall on the President and his administration. As chairman of the House Oversight Committee, Issa led partisan witch hunts into an array of phony scandals including Fast and Furious, Benghazi, ObamaCare, and the alleged targeting of Tea Party groups by the IRS.

With regard to the IRS matter, a report published this morning by USA Today revealed yet another case that demonstrates just how deceitful the Issa panel has been. The article states that “39 IRS and Treasury officials deny White House targeting.”

Darrell Issa Witch Hunter

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To be clear, this story is disclosing the testimony of 39 witnesses who were interviewed in closed sessions, all of whom told the committee that there was never any effort by the White House, or anyone else, to influence them in the conduct of their official duties to insure that organizations seeking tax-exempt status were entitled to the designation. Every single one of the witnesses called before the committee said the same thing. Yet Issa withheld the testimony of these witnesses from the public until Rep. Elijah Cummings, the ranking Democrat on the committee, made them available today.

This is typical of the way Issa manages his charge as a committee chair. When he isn’t tyrannically censoring his congressional colleagues, he is releasing snippets of data that make the President or Democrats look bad. Then when the full transcript is released it becomes apparent that Issa lied. In the meantime Fox News has already plastered their air with the falsely abridged reports, which they never bother to correct when the truth eventually comes out. This makes the response by Issa’s deputy staff director for the Oversight panel all the more ludicrous as he accuses Rep. Cummings of “cherry-picking” the evidence.

All of this is happening as the GOP led House is getting ready to vote on holding IRS official Lois Lerner in contempt of Congress for refusing to testify before Issa’s dishonest and disreputable committee. Even as the pseudo-patriots on Fox pretend to be devoted to the Constitution, they lambaste Lerner for exercising her rights and suggest that it implies guilt on her part. But those more familiar with the Constitution than the rightist hypocrites at Fox recognize that Issa’s committee is what is known as a “perjury trap,” wherein the innocent are tricked into saying things for which they are later threatened with indictment. If Lerner’s attorney permitted her to testify before a committee as corrupt as Issa’s, he should be disbarred.

Now that the testimony of these witnesses, that was taken in secret, has finally been released, you might expect that the network that has been most obsessed with the IRS/Tea Party affair would report on these statements that are so critical to the investigation. But don’t hold your breath waiting for Fox News to air anything about this. Since it essentially proves that the whole scandal mongering on the part of the Republicans and Fox News was a sham, they certainly aren’t going to blow the whistle on themselves. That would require having journalistic principles and personal integrity, commodities that are in short supply in either the GOP or Fox News.

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[Update 1] On Wednesday, May 7, the House of Representatives voted 231 to 187 to hold Lerner in contempt of Congress. And that’s about as far as this charade will go because the Department of Justice is unlikely to proceed with a prosecution.

[Update 2] As of Thursday, May 8, Fox News, as predicted, has not reported the fact that all 39 witnesses who testified before Issa’s Committee affirmed that the White House put no pressure on them and that their activities were not political.

Rupert Murdoch Fears That Bribery/Hacking Investigation Could “Kill The Corporation”

Rupert MurdochThe Independent is reporting that Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp is under investigation as a “corporate suspect” over the charges that the company engaged in unlawful activities including bribery and hacking the phones, email, and computers of hundreds of politicians, celebrities and private citizens, including a missing schoolgirl who later turned up dead. The inquiry could have significant consequences for News Corp around the world including here in the U.S.

“The Independent has learnt the Metropolitan Police has opened an “active investigation” into the corporate liabilities of the UK newspaper group – recently rebranded News UK – which could have serious implications for the ability of its parent company News Corp to operate in the United States.”

That is not merely the opinion of the investigators and/or reporters. News Corp responded to the inquiry with an apocalyptic warning suggesting that thousands of innocents would suffer if the company were held responsible for its criminal behavior.

“A News Corp analysis of the effects of a corporate charge, produced in New York, said the consequences could ‘kill the corporation and 46,000 jobs would be in jeopardy’.

“Lawyers for the media behemoth have pleaded with the Met[tropolitan Police] and the Crown Prosecution Service not to prosecute the company as it would not be in the ‘public interest’ to put thousands of jobs at risk.”

This attempt to turn employees into human shields notwithstanding, it would be unconscionable for the legal authorities to dismiss crimes because of potential adverse business results asserted by the criminal. That’s kind of like a bank president found guilty of embezzlement asking that his charges be dropped because the bad publicity might hurt the bank.

What’s more, there need not be a single job placed in jeopardy if the corporate offenders were brought to justice, removed from the company, and a properly instituted board of directors (e.g. one not beholden to the Murdoch regime) reformed the management and operations of the enterprise.

News Corp is, and has been, a criminal organization for many years. They are unapologetic about their abuse of the law and the public trust. It is encouraging that the British legal system is pursuing these charges, although in the past they have caved in to pressure from powerful business interests and retreated from doing the right thing. Time will tell if they have the integrity and fortitude to follow through on this matter.

As an addendum, the Independent’s article included an interesting explanation of the U.K.’s legal procedures regarding corporate suspects:

The Crown Prosecution Service can treat a company as a “legal person” who is “capable of being prosecuted”.

Any organisation at the centre of a criminal investigation “should not be treated differently from an individual because of its artificial personality”, according to the CPS.

The latest guidelines state: “A thorough enforcement of the criminal law against corporate offenders, where appropriate, will have a deterrent effect, protect the public and support ethical business practices.

“Prosecuting corporations, where appropriate, will capture the full range of criminality involved and thus lead to increased public confidence in the criminal justice system.”

The U.S. would do well to emulate this, particularly in the wake of the abhorrent Supreme Court decisions defining corporations as persons, but not providing any of the legal accountability to which actual persons are subjected.

Is The IRS/Tea Party Affair A False Flag Operation By GOP Operatives?

“This and no other is the root from which a tyrant springs; when he first appears he is a protector.” ~ Plato

False Flag

The force of fury that is emanating from Republicans in congress as they mount their crusade to ostensibly “protect” the nation from the wild excesses of a government agency gone mad has roiled the political landscape like a violently swirling tornado of partisan angst. The House Oversight Committee, chaired by ultra-rightist zealot (and recidivist criminal) Darrell Issa , has designated itself as the guardian of America’s virtue and the enemy of fiendish saboteurs in the despised Internal Revenue Service.

But there is something too convenient in the emergence of this curiously timed “scandal” that ought to raise suspicions among wakeful citizens. Think about it. The previous scandal du jour, Benghazi-Gate, was crumbling like a week-old danish. None of the frenzied allegations were panning out and, rather than diminishing the President’s reputation, his approval ratings were rising. Republicans needed a fresh dead horse to beat and suddenly the IRS dropped a gift on the GOP’s doorstep. Coincidence?

Consider further that the meat of the controversy was an astoundingly lame strategy that purported to target conservative non-profit groups for stricter scrutiny of their applications for tax-exempt status. The execution of this plan was so ineptly transparent it seems as if it was designed to be discovered. It would not have been difficult to devise a program that resulted in conservative groups being reviewed without being specific in a manner that gave away a partisan intent. But the supposed conspirators in this case used obvious language like “Tea Party” and “912 Project” to select applications to audit. That makes no sense because, if you’re trying to secretly suppress opposing political players you would try to do it secretly, wouldn’t you. What’s more, you wouldn’t leave a glowing neon paper trail that begged to be followed. Why would Democrats plotting to monkey-wrench a bunch of otherwise feeble Teabaggers, whose popularity was in rapid descent, concoct such a rickety plan?

The answer, of course, is that they wouldn’t. And to be precise, they (the Democrats) didn’t. The most prominent figures named so far in this affair are IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman and the director of the tax-exempt organizations division, Lois Lerner. Both are Republicans brought into their government jobs by George W. Bush. Remember, he’s the guy who politicized the IRS by challenging the tax status of the NAACP, Greenpeace, and even liberal churches. He also politicized the Department of Justice by firing nine U.S. Attorneys who were appointed by a Democratic president. [Update: Congressional investigators reveal that the IRS manager who initiated the Tea Party inquiries is a conservative Republican].

When assessing the facts of this plot it can hardly be regarded as insignificant that the lead plotters were Republicans. Furthermore, the first disclosure that something was awry at the IRS was not made by an intrepid investigative journalist tracking down corruption in the system. It was revealed by Lerner, who planted an aide in a public meeting to ask her about the partisan targeting. So it was actually Republicans in the IRS who cooked up the policy and then leaked it to the media via subterfuge. Why would they do such a thing?

In the process of investigating clandestine operations there is a common inquiry designed to lead to the perpetrators: “Cui bono,” or who benefits? Clearly the activities attributed to the IRS have almost no beneficial value to Democrats. After all, not a single one of the groups subjected to review were denied tax-exempt status. And since the law permits non-profits to solicit tax-exempt donations while their applications are in process, no fundraising was hampered. If this were a plot by Democrats to harm political opponents, why would they stop so far short of their goal and openly advertise their misbehavior? It seems more like a scheme to get the Democrats blamed for trying to harm Republicans without resulting in any actual harm. That would be a scenario that benefited the Republicans, who just happened to be in a position to orchestrate it.

So the GOP had motive, opportunity, and all of the available evidence that was provided and exploited came from Republicans intent on disabling a Democratic administration. It was timed to a news cycle that would otherwise have boosted President Obama’s agenda as the economy showed signs of improvement, jobs were on the rise, and major legislative initiatives like immigration, gun safety, and climate change, were gaining momentum. The lead investigator in the House (Issa) is a known crook who was informed of the IRS activities a year ago, but waited until all the pieces were in place to launch his witch hunt.

This affair smells fishy from the get-go. It was made for media consumption. Nobody got wound up in the Benghazi story because there was no easy handle for malicious reporters to grab unto, or for the public to readily grasp. But everybody already hates the IRS, so fabricating an abuse of power fable has built in appeal. That’s how you end up with wild stories about the IRS Commissioner visiting the White House 157 times, with insinuations that he was conspiring with the President. When a legitimate news reporter followed up, there were far fewer visits (perhaps as few as eleven) and they were all to attend meetings, with people other than Obama, related to the implementation of the health care bill.

However, accuracy and honesty were never a part of the brazen hype machine that has been pumping out the lurid allegations and wispy rumor mongering that Republicans have embraced as their replacement for evidence and facts. The truth is merely an obstacle to the fulfillment of the GOP’s agenda. But it is becoming more apparent every day that the truth may have more to do with Republican malfeasance than that of Democrats. And anyone who dismisses the role of Republicans in creating and executing this alleged scheme is willfully blinding themselves to the reality that the GOP had far more to gain by manufacturing this scandal than the Democrats would have had in carrying out something so inept and ineffective.

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[Authors Note: If you got this far I would like to reveal now that I don't believe for a second that the IRS affair is a false flag operation by the GOP. While all of the facts presented above are true, the conclusion is a farce meant to illustrate how different the crazies on the right are from the crazies on the left.

Conservatives would have jumped on a story with the factual details that this one has and propagated, in all seriousness, the conspiracy theory that I outlined above. Glenn Beck, Alex Jones, Rush Limbaugh, and even congresspersons like Michele Bachmann and Louie Gohmert would be polishing their tin-foil hats right about now. However, despite the ripeness of these facts, there is no one on the left pushing such a conspiracy theory.

Just a little something to ponder when right-wingers seek to make phony arguments of equivalency whenever they are caught doing or saying something that is monumentally stupid.]

Have “Scandals” Sparked A New Tea Party Revival?

It’s as predictable as Glenn Beck’s tears. As soon as a president appears to be weakened by attack, the media pounces in a feeding frenzy hoping to score a kill. Some do it out of partisan animus. Some do it for personal glory. But either way it’s a bloodcurdling spectacle that contains scant morsels of actual substance.

In the present festival of feasting, many in the press are asking the same question: Have the scandals plaguing the White House created an opportunity for the moribund Tea Party to mount a revival? Take a look at a selection of the headlines:

  • Scandals revive Tea Party, threaten Obamacare – Boston Herald
  • Tea Party revival – World Magazine
  • Will the IRS scandal revive the Tea Party? – The Week Magazine
  • IRS scandal revives tea party – CNN
  • IRS scandal: Reinvigorated tea party eager to seize moment – Christian Science Monitor
  • Tea Party Looks To Gain Momentum In IRS Scandal Aftermath – Huffington Post
  • Back from the dead – WorldNetDaily

That last one from WorldNetDaily is particularly notable because it presumes that the Tea Party has been dead, which is not something that WorldNetDaily ordinarily admits.

To answer the burning question of the day, let’s examine how the Tea Party responded to the scandal outbreak. With lightening-fast reflexes, the Tea Party Patriots organized protests across the country to “Rein in the IRS.” And their legions of followers stepped up to speak truth to power. There were 30 of them in Topeka, 70 in Phoenix, 100 in Tampa, 30 in Kansas City, 11 in Tallahassee, 100 in Chicago, 50 in Denver, 6 in Helena, and 50 in San Bernardino where they also spoke Hitlerian rhetoric to power. In the nation’s second biggest city, Los Angeles, the Teabaggers showed up 13 strong.

Tea Party

WOW! If this isn’t a demonstration of just how engaged and relevant the Tea Party is, I don’t know what would be. Clearly they have the political punch of a drunken gerbil. Nevertheless, the media will continue to prop them up as if they were actually influential. The press will ignore factual data like that presented here and fluff the baggers excitedly in the hopes of producing a climax of contrived controversy.

The truly depressing part of this is that the failure to recognize the impotence of the Tea Party will only embolden the minority fringe caucus of the Republicans in congress and encourage them to persist in their obstructionist strategy that has been so hurtful, divisive, and regressive socially and economically.

In a few weeks this will all have been forgotten and, if recent polling is any indicator, the President will be more popular than ever, and the GOP congress will hit new lows. In the meantime, it’s going to be a summer of frustration as little progress is made on the real problems that plague our nation. Too bad.

STFU: Fox News Lacks Moral Authority On The DOJ’s Leak Investigations

There have long been complex debates about the propriety of government inquiring into private information in the course of criminal investigations. And the potential for harm to national security further complicates issues that test constitutional principles. However, ever since the Supreme Court ruled in 1971 that the publication of the Pentagon Papers was not actionable, it has been recognized that the press cannot be legally constrained from reporting information it receives from government insiders, even if those sources are improperly disclosing classified data.

The core legal concept here is that the source may be a legitimate target of an investigation for violating laws protecting classified data, but that reporters are simply doing their jobs. If a journalist is not suspected of having broken a law, he cannot be subject to invasive inquiries. Consequently, it may be entirely permissible to subpoena the phone records of a leaker, but not the reporter to whom he leaked.

Given the still incomplete record of what occurred with the Associated Press and Fox News, the Justice Department appears to have overstepped its bounds in examining the phone records of journalists. If it turns out that the journalists acted unlawfully (i.e. solicited classified data in exchange for cash or other favors), that would implicate the reporter as a co-conspirator, but as yet there is no evidence of that. And absent any such exception, the DOJ needs to come clean, acknowledge its mistakes, reaffirm its commitment to the law, and punish those responsible for the gross prosecutorial abuse.

That said, it is utterly ridiculous for Fox News to display such furious indignation over these events considering their past with regard to far worse behavior. The Washington Post, CBS News, and pretty much any other news organization can and should pursue this story aggressively, but Fox really needs to shut the fuck up.

Picture this: Fox News is going nuts about a couple of dozen reporters having their phone records examined by law enforcement officials seeking information about someone suspected of leaking national security secrets. Bear in mind that there was no wiretapping, listening in, or recording of any conversations, just a listing of the calling histories. And even that was not done until after having received permission from a judge. Over that Fox is shouting “SCANDAL” at the top of their lungs.

But there is nary a peep about other Rupert Murdoch-owned entities hacking into the phones, email, and computers of hundreds of private citizens, royals, celebrities, politicians, and even a kidnapped schoolgirl who later turned up dead. That unambiguously criminal activity resulted in dozens of arrests and the shuttering of the highest circulation newspaper in England. Fox not only soft-peddled this historically scandalous story, they openly suppressed it on their own air:

Fox News has been devoting unprecedented airtime to the DOJ story, while engaging in wild and baseless speculation to associate the White House with allegedly improper activities. But their feverish obsession with tarnishing the President and others makes a mockery of journalistic ethics. When Fox devotes equal time to the still ongoing scandal in their own house, then they might be taken seriously when they report on the bad behavior of others.

Obama’s IRS Probes Tax-Exempt Status Of Abortion Doctor’s Benghazi Tea Party

The media has been in a virtual orgasmic frenzy for the past 24 hours as reports come out about troubling behavior by government agencies. Make no mistake, what appears to have been done by individuals in the IRS and the Justice Department is of enormous concern to Americans who are justifiably suspicious of the potential for abuse of government power. There is good reason to be outraged by recent events and it is clear that there is such outrage from across the political spectrum.

An equal amount of outrage must also be directed at the idiotic people at the IRS who thought that what they were doing was helpful to progressive affairs. Not only does that sort of behavior contradict the most basic principles of liberalism, the high risk of discovery and subsequent scandal ought to have brought anyone whose common sense had lapsed straight back to reality. The damage done by this stupidity could not have been more successfully achieved if it were a deliberate plot by GOP plants in the agencies.

Jon Stewart

That is why the exasperation expressed by Jon Stewart last night (video below) was so appropriate. By committing some obviously nefarious acts of abuse, these miscreants have also made it harder to advance the rational and necessary legislative initiatives aimed at restoring jobs and economic growth, fixing the immigration system, implementing healthcare, battling terrorism, etc. It was bad enough when all we had to deal with was obsessively obstructionist Tea-publicans in congress, but now, as Stewart put it so well…

“This has, in one seismic moment, shifted the burden of proof from the tin-foil behatted to the government.”

Indeed. Now, along with wingnuts like Michelle Bachmann, Louis Gohmert, and Ted Cruz, we have every psychotic from Alex Jones to Glenn Beck to Ted Nugent insisting that they were right all along when they said that Obama was a reptilian space alien sent here to breed. Never mind that their delusions are just as schizoid today as they were yesterday, they are basking in the limelight created by a few low-level dumb-asses who have nothing to do with the bigger agenda our nation needs to pursue.

Not to be left out, Fox News is all over these wannabe scandals. They are interviewing Darrell Issa about the AP phone records without disclosing that Issa voted against the bill that would have made such seizures unlawful. They hosted Dick Cheney on Sean Hannity’s program to say that Benghazi is “one of the worst incidents, frankly, that I can recall in my career.” And remember, his career encompasses Nazi concentration camps and nuclear bombings in Japan, as well as those for which he bears some personal responsibility, like 9/11.

Some news outlets have made the effort to demonstrate that these sort of IRS transgressions were not invented last week. During the Bush administration there were abuses like these on multiple occasions. Alex Seitz-Wald at Salon has enumerated a few: The IRS threatened to revoke the tax-exempt status of the All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena following an anti-war sermon; The IRS audited the NAACP after its chairman criticized President Bush; The IRS audited and threatened to revoke Greenpeace’s tax-exempt status.

As for Fox News, they also did a report on the over-reaching of past presidents. And look at who they identified as violators:

Fox News - IRS Presidents

Fox managed to find two Democratic presidents (Kennedy and Clinton), who were never found to have done anything unlawful or even unethical via the IRS, and matched them up with one of histories most flagrant criminals (Nixon) whose abuse of IRS power is well documented and even recorded on tape. And somehow, George W. Bush, despite the cases noted above, was left out of Fox’s report entirely. Fair and What the Fuck?

Later in the day, Fox moved on to the story about Bloomberg News snooping on the users of their financial terminals. What could be more unsettling than the prospect of a powerful media institution secretly monitoring your private Internet and telecommunications activities?

Fox News - Bloomberg

Perhaps it might be a private media institution secretly hacking into the phones of thousands of individuals, including politicians, celebrities, and even a murdered schoolgirl. That, of course, is what Rupert Murdoch’s enterprise has admitted doing, but was never covered with the enthusiasm as Fox is now covering the story about their competitor, Bloomberg.

Murdochalypse

So for the foreseeable future, American news viewers are going to be bombarded with a flurry of sensationalistic stories bursting with speculation and hyperbole. We are already seeing reports that crunch together some of these affairs into conspiracies that assume a role by President Obama that no one has yet proven exists. Fox’s Neil Cavuto devoted a segment of his program to imply that the malfeasance in the IRS’s tax-exempt division will somehow spill over to the group that audits elements of ObamaCare, although they are not even remotely affiliated. The upshot of this conspiracy dementia is that if anyone in any agency does something untoward, then everyone in every agency is guilty.

What’s truly unfortunate is that the investigations into the failings that led to these abuses at the IRS and elsewhere, investigations that are warranted and could be beneficial, will undoubtedly distract both the media and the political class from working to resolve the many serious issues our nation is facing. So instead of creating jobs, protecting and educating children, addressing immigration, or pursuing terrorists, we will be inundated with ever more stories about Benghazi, the IRS, and Jodie Arias-style crime dramas.

If and when we get back to more substantive matters that affect the lives of real people, the scent of scandal will linger and further hamper progress. Consequently, without efficient and effective management of recent events, the nation may have to accept a period of stagnation, which is not what we need right now. And those jerkwads at the IRS are largely responsible for screwing over every citizen who had hoped that the country could move forward just a little bit. I hope they (figuratively) fry.

Right-Wing Rag Allegedly Paid Prostitues To Malign Democratic Senator

Tucker CarlsonFox News flunkie Tucker Carlson is in deep water over allegations that his web site, The Daily Caller, orchestrated a smear campaign against Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) that included paying prostitutes to make up stories about having had sex with the senator.

The story originally published by TheDC featured a pair of alleged prostitutes who claimed to have been hired by Menendez. The web site did not identify the women or most of the other sources they relied on. Subsequent to the posting of that article it was severely ripped apart by a Washington Post investigation that turned up a prostitute who confessed that her allegations were false and that she was paid to lie.

Now the already tattered reputation of The DC has been shredded further with a new report from WaPo that the attorney who represented the prostitutes in the scandal was himself paid to solicit women willing to make the false allegations, and that the source of the payments was [insert trumpet here] The Daily Caller:

“A top Dominican law enforcement official said Friday that a local lawyer has reported being paid by someone claiming to work for the conservative Web site the Daily Caller to find prostitutes who would lie and say they had sex for money with Sen. Robert Menendez.”

The lawyer making this assertion is Melanio Figueroa, who was the only named source in TheDC’s original story. Now TheDC is in the uncomfortable position of having to denounce their primary source as a liar without retracting the story that relied on his testimony. It isn’t easy for a “news” enterprise to say “The guy that we relied on for everything is a big liar, and we stand by everything he said.”

In response to WaPo’s latest revelations TheDC, not surprisingly, issued a blanket denial that they had paid anyone connected to the affair. However the article they posted containing the denial was blatantly spun to misrepresent the facts. TheDC’s Vince Coglianese wrote that…

“Figueroa blamed four news outlets — CNN, The Daily Caller, Telemundo and Univision — for allegedly encouraging him to fabricate false accusations about Menendez.”

That sentence is an artificial blending of responsibility for the dishonest reports in an obvious attempt to distribute the blame. However, a more detailed account of events appeared in the WaPo and pointed to just TheDC as the instigator.

“In comments reported by Univision, [District Attorney] Polanco said that Figueroa stated he was been contacted by four media outlets — Telemundo, Univision, CNN en Español, and the Daily Caller — that were interested in having interviews with the women. But Figueroa told police it was only ‘Carlos,’ who identified himself as working for the Daily Caller, who came to the Dominican Republic and paid him to arrange the recorded interviews, according to an interview with Polanco.”

In TheDC’s account all four media outlets were accused of encouraging false statements. But in the WaPo’s story it was only TheDC who did so, and the other three only sought to interview the women. The is evidence that The Daily Caller is scrambling desperately to extricate themselves from a web of deceit of their own making.

To be sure, the credibility of the persons connected to this affair is suspect all around. But that only affirms the careless and/or corrupt practices at TheDC. If their primary source, Figueroa, is telling the truth about receiving payments from TheDC, then they are guilty of bribing a source to lie. If he is lying about the payments, then they are guilty of publishing a story based on the testimony of a liar. It’s a lose-lose for Tucker Carlson whose own credibility is not much better than the cretins he hangs around with.

GOP: Greed Obsessed Profiteers – How the Right Fleeces Donors To Enrich Themselves

The election of 2012 broke all records for spending on campaigns and collateral causes of political movers and shakers. The orgy of spending was triggered by the Citizen’s United decision allowing donors to make unlimited contributions anonymously. A by product of this landscape littered with special interest cash was a new industry driven by hucksters intent on sucking up substantial portions of the money flying around in the political ether.

One of those hucksters was the toe-sucking grifter, Dick Morris. Rachel Maddow recently reported on his scam that involved soliciting donations for a Super PAC that he claimed to have founded, and funneling those funds to his accomplices at the right wing blog Newsmax. Then NewsMax used some of that money to pay Morris for access to his email donors list so that they could solicit more donations. In effect, Morris was raising money to pay himself to raise more money.

Another example of this racket involved the Astroturf-roots, Tea Party operation, FreedomWorks. In the wake of scandalous revelations that their former chairman Dick Armey had staged an armed coup to wrest control of the group from his partners, it has been learned that the organization was taking the funds received from unsuspecting donors who opposed big government waste and depositing them in the bank accounts of wealthy broadcasters like Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh. These payouts were ostensibly intended to buy positive promotions of FreedomWorks on their programs in order to produce more donations that could also be paid out to the promoters. It was a blatantly circular self-enrichment scheme that was also described by Armey as “ineffective” and “a mistake.”

These incidents illustrate a congenital characteristic of the conservative mindset. It is a philosophy that explicitly lauds a dog-eat-dog flavor of wealth creation and celebrates the success of ruthless entrepreneurship and Greed-Obsessed Profiteers (i.e. GOP).

At the center of this con game is Fox News and the associated right-wing media machine. The unprecedented sums of money raised and spent in the last election cycle exceeded $5 billion dollars. Of that it is estimated that $3.4 was spent on advertising. In the world of Republican politics there is only one elephant in the room when it comes to media, and that is Fox News, the number one rated cable news network (for now) and the PR division of the GOP.

Fox was the first stop on every Republican’s campaign trip. It was where groups like FreedomWorks and Americans for Prosperity dumped the bulk of their television ad dollars. It was the TV base for Dick Morris, Karl Rove, Scott Rasmussen, and the Breitbart-affiliated activists who were pretending to be movie producers.

Fox News was running the same scam as those described above. They would provide a platform for conservative politicians and organizations to solicit donations. The organizations would then pay Fox to run their ads with the money they raised from their appearances on Fox. And round and round it goes.

Rupert MurdochThis is a tactic exploited so well by Rupert Murdoch himself in the last election cycle when he donated a million dollars to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce who promptly returned it to Fox in the form of ad buys. In this way Murdoch actually made a 22% profit on his donation to the Chamber, and the Chamber got their ads broadcast at a 78% discount.

The maze of campaign finance laws makes it difficult to ascertain whether or not any laws were broken by these financial shenanigans. But the Federal Elections Commission is such an impotent agency that it would be surprising if they ever bothered to investigate or punish such lawbreakers.

However, what is even more surprising is that anybody would contribute to these organizations if they knew that their donations were not being used to advance the causes they support, but instead are lining the pockets of the executives and fundraisers. It is brazen betrayal of the folks who put their hard-earned dollars to work for their beliefs. But it is also precisely what conservatives are best known for: making themselves rich at the expense of the little people.

Hysterical Addendum] Dick Armey is now claiming that when he spoke with Media Matters and made his remarks about FreedomWorks, and their wasting money on Beck and Limbaugh, he actually thought he was talking to the uber-rightist Media Research Center. That explains his candor. He clearly believed that those comments would never be made public by MRC.

Romancing Petraeus: Why Fox News CEO Roger Ailes Debases Both Journalism And Democracy

Roger AilesThe Washington Post’s Bob Woodward just published a story revealing that Fox News CEO Roger Ailes dispatched a Fox News defense analyst to deliver a personal request to Gen. David Petraeus. Ailes sent K.T. McFarland to Kabul, Afghanistan, with the message that Ailes wanted Petraeus to run against Barack Obama for president.

The notion of a news network soliciting candidates for political office is a repulsive perversion of the role journalists play in society. Ailes heads a network that pretends to be “fair and balanced” while brazenly campaigning on behalf of the Republican Party and conservative policies. But taking that a step further into the jurisdiction of GOP candidate recruitment is a violation of the core tenets of journalistic ethics.

In the audio that Woodward posted, McFarland can be heard discussing particulars of a Petraeus candidacy including the possibility of it being run by Ailes himself, and bankrolled by Rupert Murdoch. Murdoch has already contributed untold millions of dollars to GOP campaigns via free airtime and unconstrained support from Fox anchors, contributors, and guests. Their advocacy was so overwhelming this year that it resulted in a stunned electorate on the Republican side who believed, due to Fox coverage, that their victory was in the bag.

The conversation between Petraeus and McFarland was rife with ethical breaches on the part of McFarland. For instance, she began her message from Ailes saying “What I’m supposed to say directly from him to you, through me, is first of all, is there anything Fox is doing, right or wrong, that you want to tell us to do differently?” No self-respecting reporter would ever take orders from an interview subject on how to shape the coverage of their news. And it’s an even worse offense when it comes from the head of the operation.

What’s more, McFarland’s behavior should disqualify her from appearing on Fox as an analyst. How can she be trusted to be objective after gushing that she and “everyone at Fox love” the General? That bit of sycophancy notwithstanding, McFarland did return from Kabul and appeared on Fox with praise for Petraeus as “one of the greatest generals in American history.”

Petraeus responded to McFarland by expressing his distaste for certain criticisms of the Afghan war effort, which he said may have just been attributable to the headlines. So McFarland accommodated him by saying that it was “easy to fix” because she sits next to the woman who writes them. For McFarland to promise to insure more flattering headlines in articles about the general would be cause for termination from a reputable news organization.

Then McFarland hit Petraeus with Ailes’ advice that he reject any appointment offered by the President other than Chairman of the joint Chiefs of Staff. She said that Ailes specifically singled out the CIA as a post Petraeus should not accept. Her characterization of the machinations of the White House involved some sort of plot to dump Petraeus at the CIA where he wouldn’t be heard from and would not pose a threat to Obama’s reelection. Again, where do McFarland and Ailes get off politicking like this?

Despite the advice of Ailes, Petraeus told McFarland that he regarded the CIA and intelligence as a growth industry where he felt he could make a significant contribution. Obama later did offer him the job, but he was not as silent in that role as he might have hoped. The disclosure of his marital infidelity ended his career at the CIA and much of the speculation about his future.

When Woodward contacted Ailes to get his response to the McFarland/Petraeus tapes, Ailes admitted that he sent McFarland on this mission, but attempted to play down the candidate recruitment aspect of it:

“It was more of a joke, a wiseass way I have. I thought the Republican [primary] field needed to be shaken up and Petraeus might be a good candidate.”

Anyone who believes that dodge is sorely in need of a transfusion of healthy skepticism. It is highly unlikely that Ailes sent McFarland to Kabul to tell Petraeus a joke. He clearly wanted the General to run for president, just like he also wanted Chris Christie to do so after Petraeus declined. It was Ailes’ objective, and that of Boss Murdoch, to bring about the defeat of Obama.

But it is also notable that Ailes felt it was his right and/or duty to shake up the GOP primaries. News people are supposed to report the news, not make it. Where does this sort of chicanery end? If Ailes thought the debate over the budget should be shaken up, might he send a hooker to the hotel room of the House Budget Committee chair? If he thought the Supreme Court ruling on ObamaCare needed a jolt of excitement would he plant some cocaine on a wavering justice? If he needed additional ammo with which to attack Obama, would he manufacture a phony controversy about the President being responsible for the murders of U.S. diplomats in Benghazi? Oh, wait a minute, Ailes actually did that last one already.

The revelations contained in Woodward’s story affirm that Ailes is a Machiavellian scoundrel and that Fox News is a rogue operation. Their intrusion into the political process debases journalism by breaching all standards of ethical conduct. And they debase democracy as well by exploiting their power and wealth to manipulate political outcomes. Roger Ailes has now provided verification for every criticism of his villainy that has been directed at him. And Fox News continues to lack any moral standing to be considered a legitimate news enterprise.

[Addendum 12/20/12] The media has largely ignored this story, an omission that has now been noticed and pointedly analyzed by Woodward’s former partner, Carl Bernstein, in an article for The Guardian.

Murdochalypse Comes To America: Is Fox News Next To Fall?

MurdochalypseThe scandal that is devouring Rupert Murdoch’s international media empire has thus far resulted in numerous arrests of public officials in Britain and top-level Murdoch executives. It led to the closure of Murdoch’s tabloid, News of the World. It tarnished the reputations of the Murdoch ruling family to the point that the once heir apparent, James Murdoch, was forced to resign from the chairmanship of both News International and the British Sky Broadcasting satellite network.

This cesspool of criminality and debased ethics has grown from what News Corp once tried to dismiss as a “single rogue reporter” to a corporate-wide syndicate of corruption. Nevertheless, News Corp has somehow managed to contain the damage to its European assets. That is quite a feat considering that any reputation for misbehavior on the scale seen here ought to rub off on the rest of the enterprise responsible for it. The main sticking point has been that the scandal had not crossed the Atlantic to America.

Well that shield may have just been pierced. Mark Lewis, a British attorney who has represented several figures in the News Corp hacking affair, including the family of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler, is coming to America with a caseload that includes alleged victims of Murdoch’s Mafia who are citizens of the United States. The Daily Beast reports that…

…Lewis confirmed for the first time that he plans to file three separate lawsuits on behalf of clients who believe their phones were hacked while they were on U.S. soil. At least one of the cases, Lewis adds, involves allegations that the phone of a U.S. citizen was hacked.

If Lewis has American clients who were subjected to the same sort of illegal intrusions that were a core part of News Corp’s British operations, this is a whole new ballgame. Even though the national borders ought not to protect Murdoch from repercussions arising from his sleazy business practices, that protection will become moot if it is proven that the same activities were perpetrated on these shores.

It remains to be seen if Lewis has the goods on Murdoch, but it is hard to believe that disreputable press entities like Fox News and the New York Post would consider themselves above their British cousins, especially when many of the managers at the U.S. branches transferred to their stateside posts from the corrupt News International executive suites. And if Lewis doesn’t have the goods now, he may shortly acquire them as the investigation continues.

Even though this scandal has already ensnared News Corp executives and English police officials and politicians, it may just be beginning to heat up. Stay tuned.

Sarah Palin On Herman Cain

Sarah Palin[Editor's Note: Please accept my apology for any mental image the headline of this article may have inadvertently caused]

Sarah Palin has taken great pains to cast herself as a new kind of feminist. Her crusade for a version of conservative feminism has spawned a movement of “mama grizzlies” who she regards as the defenders of traditional values. So it is interesting to look back a few months and recall how Palin stepped forward to fulfill her role as a women’s advocate.

When the Anthony Weiner story broke, Palin was quick to judge the congressman who had done nothing illegal and did not even have any physical extra-marital encounters. Nevertheless, Palin pounced on the scandal with a harsh condemnation complete with a sexually suggestive pun. Here is what Palin said about Weiner:

“From henceforth after his personal indiscretions were disclosed, he was going to be rendered impotent basically there in Congress and he wasn’t going to be effective…Obviously it was the right thing to do. Day late dollar short though, I think he should have resigned right when all of this came to light.”

However, Palin’s assessment of the Cain scandal, which does involve potentially criminal behavior and was described by the victim as physical, has not raised the same measure of indignation. Here is what Palin said about Cain:

 

That’s right. Palin has not bothered to comment on a case of alleged sexual harassment and, perhaps, assault. Even though she previously disparaged Cain as the “flavor of the week,” she cannot bring herself to make a statement on behalf of a victimized woman. Palin’s silence on this matter is deafening. If she expects people to give consideration to her views, she would be well-advised to express them.

Of course, it may not be her fault. Since bowing out of the GOP primary, Palin has all but disappeared from public view. The press is finally giving her the level of attention that she has always deserved – none. Since she is not an expert on any social or legal matter, and she holds no position of authority, her opinions are no more valid than any other media celebrity. So we should not expect to hear from her again unless she is appearing on a panel with Paris Hilton and Charlie Sheen.

Cocaine And Infidelity? The Silence Of Sarah Palin

Sarah PalinThe National Enquirer is teasing a story in their upcoming issue about excerpts it claims to have received from a new book about Sarah Palin: “The Rogue: Searching for the Real Sarah Palin,” by Joe McGinniss. The details are sordid and potentially shattering for the Alaskan Prima Dona.

According to the Enquirer, McGinniss has uncovered evidence that Palin had a one-night stand with NBA star Glen Rice, who was playing for Michigan University at the time. That’s no big deal. She was young and single and how often would she have the chance to nail a 6’8″ athletic hunk in Alaska?

The more troubling reports concern her alleged cocaine use and an affair with her husband’s business partner that eventually resulted in the dissolution of the business.

Joe McGinniss has a pretty good reputation for accuracy in his books and he spent considerable time in Alaska researching this one. He rented a house next door to the Palins, whose paranoia drove them to erect a wall to keep him from peering in (Palin even accused him of being a Peeping Tom).

But what is most curious in the wake of this leak by the Enquirer is that Palin has not responded at all. In the past she has aggressively defended herself when attacked by taking to Twitter or Facebook and denouncing the fiend who would tarnish her virtue. However, she has been conspicuously silent on these matters.

Silence, of course, is not an admission of guilt. But it is inconsistent with her pattern of behavior and there must be some reason for that. We will know before too long. The book is being released next week and there is no way that Palin, as she continues her charade that she is considering a run for the Republican nomination for president (she isn’t), can evade questions about these allegations.

Fed Up? Rick Perry Sucks Up To AT&T And Vice Versa

A couple of weeks ago Rick Perry was caught on tape with a representative of Bank of America who offered a comforting message to the Texas governor saying that “We’ll help you out.” He wasn’t kidding.

Rick Perry

ThinkProgress documented the extent to which BofA had already provided abundant comfort to Perry. He has received over $125,000 from BofA’s PAC. He has received $4 million from the Republican Governor’s Association, to which BofA was a major contributor while Perry was its chairman. In exchange, Perry has been a stalwart advocate of deregulation for banking and financial services. He regards the Consumer Financial Protection Agency as unconstitutional.

But Bank of America is not Perry’s only CFF (Corporate Friend Forever) He is also intimate with AT&T. He recently endorsed the mega-merger between AT&T and T-Mobile (which the Justice Department recently announced it would challenge). I’m sure that had nothing to do with the $500,000 Perry has received from AT&T over the past decade.

In addition, the Dallas Morning News reported last December that AT&T bought 700 copies of Perry’s book, “Fed Up!” to distribute to attendees of an ALEC-sponsored luncheon. (Read more about ALEC)

“…the book purchase was arranged between [AT&T] and the American Legislative Exchange Council [ALEC], the conservative outfit that invited Perry to speak at its annual policy summit.

“A spokeswoman for the Exchange Council said the book order cost more than $13,000. AT&T said the sponsorship was meant to share Perry’s agenda with people who attended the summit, many of whom are state legislators from across the country.”

The relationship between Perry and AT&T, a Dallas-based corporation, raises many ethical and legal questions. Throw in a connection to ALEC and you have the makings of a world-class larcenous affair that suggests a slight modification to the AT&T slogan, “Rethink Ethical.”

This sort of pay-to-play politics is typical of the Perry regime in Texas. He has long run an operation out of the governor’s mansion that produced lucrative state contracts in exchange for political donations.

Rick Perry Pay-to-Play

Texas business as usual. And as I’ve said before “Perry is an evangelical huckster with no substantive record of achievement? He’s Elmer Gantry with a government job and gets his snake oil straight from the well.”

Culture Warrior Bill O’Reilly Takes One In The Gut

Fox Nation GawkerLast week I posted a screen grab from Fox Nation that revealed that the Fox News crew had trouble counting in single digits. The image that appeared on Fox Nation and FoxNews.com with the headline, “Gawker and 7 Other Formerly Popular Sites That Are Dead or Dying,” actually had eight sites in addition to Gawker. What I didn’t know at the time was Fox’s reason for taking up space to slam Gawker. Now I know:

How Bill O’Reilly Tried to Get His Wife’s Boyfriend Investigated By the Cops

Last summer, Fox News anchor Bill O’Reilly came to believe that his wife was romantically involved with another man. Not just any man, but a police detective in the Long Island community they call home. So O’Reilly did what any concerned husband would do: He pulled strings to get the police department’s internal affairs unit to investigate one of their own for messing with the wrong man’s lady.

Fox News was aware that Gawker was preparing to publish this story about their top ratings draw and had decided to make a preemptive strike. The story reveals compelling evidence that O’Reilly’s marriage is on the skids. His wife had purchased a home in her own name and transferred her voter registration. And her name has been removed from the IRS filings of the charitable foundation that she and Bill had previously managed together.

In addition to the love triangle, the story also features civil corruption via the alleged connection between O’Reilly and his pals at the Nassau County Police Department. It doesn’t help matters that O’Reilly was perhaps dangling a major donation to the department at the time he sought to use the them to extract his romantic revenge. In their defense, Fox was uncharacteristically succinct issuing a terse non-denial:

“Gawker has been lying about Fox News for several years. We are not going to dignify this with any further comment.”

So it appears that the Culture Warrior, the protector of America’s virtue, the bane of Secular-Progressives, is something less than virtuous himself. Gee, who would have known?

Bill O'Reilly

Is The Murdoch Mob Coming Under FBI Scrutiny?

MurdochalypseAuthor and Rupert Murdoch biographer, Michael Wolff, is reporting that Murdoch and his crime family may be staring down charges under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act:

“Among the areas that the FBI is said to be looking at in its investigation of News Corp. are charges that one of its subsidiaries, News America Marketing, illegally hacked the computer system of a competitor, Floorgraphics, and then, using the information it had gleaned, tried to extort it into selling out to News Corp.; allegations that relationships the New York Post has maintained with New York City police officers may have involved exchanges of favors and possibly money for information; and accusations that Fox chief Roger Ailes sought to have an executive in the company, the book publisher Judith Regan, lie to investigators about details of her relationship with New York police commissioner Bernie Kerik in order to protect the political interests of Rudy Giuliani, then a presidential prospect.”

Wolff documents the magnitude of the corruption at News Corp that has become so integral to their corporate culture that they don’t even regard what they’re doing as corrupt. Wolff also notes the mechanism by which Murdoch has evaded justice to date:

“…it’s because the fundamental currency of the company has always been reward and punishment. Both the New York Post and Fox News maintain enemy lists. Almost anyone who has directly crossed these organizations, or who has made trouble for their parent company, will have felt the sting here. That sting involves regular taunting and, often, lies.”

No kidding. Fox News, in particular, brazenly lies about their perceived enemies who include pretty much any Democrat. Certainly President Obama has been the frequent target of dishonest attacks. Currently Media Matters is the victim of a sustained campaign that misstates the law in order to challenge their tax-exempt status. And the Fox-led assaults against ACORN, Climate Change, immigrants, and voting rights have all been subject to the fabrication factory run by Murdoch and company.

The RICO statutes may be just the vehicle to rein in these crooks. Here’s hoping that the legal authorities will crack this case and bring the Murdoch Mob to justice.

News Of The World Whistleblower Found Dead

Now we have our first official “News Corpse”: The man who first raised allegations about hacking at the News Of The World, has been found dead. Via The Guardian

“Sean Hoare, the former News of the World showbiz reporter who was the first named journalist to allege Andy Coulson was aware of phone hacking by his staff, has been found dead, the Guardian has learned.”

The Guardian reports that “The death is currently being treated as unexplained, but not thought to be suspicious. Police investigations into this incident are ongoing.” The Guardian goes on to report that Hoare…

“…told the [New York Times] that not only did Coulson know of the phone hacking, but that he actively encouraged his staff to intercept the phone calls of celebrities in the pursuit of exclusives.

“In a subsequent interview with the BBC he alleged that he was personally asked by his then-editor, Coulson, to tap into phones. In an interview with the PM programme he said Coulson’s insistence that he didn’t know about the practice was ‘a lie, it is simply a lie.’”

This is, first and foremost, a tragedy for the Hoare family. But the significance to the ongoing scandal cannot be dismissed. Stay tuned because, as Hoare himself had once said, “There’s more to come. This is not going to go away.”

The Wall Street Journal’s Tone-Deaf Defense Of Murdochalypse

MurdochalypsePerhaps we shouldn’t be surprised, but Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal has published a self-serving op-ed that seeks to separate itself from the travails of its corporate parent, News Corp. The Journal argues that anyone who thinks there is any carryover from the UK scandal is overreaching. Never mind that the head of the Journal’s Dow Jones division, Les Hinton, was carried over to the states from his British perch at News International and has already resigned as a result of his association with the disgraced enterprise.

The op-ed takes a decidedly arrogant approach in suggesting that they, for some unexplained reason, are above it all and should not be tarnished. They regard the whole affair as a legal matter that is limited to the UK and that the real problem is the malfeasance of Scotland Yard for not properly investigating the crimes involved. The Journal’s editorial conveniently leaves out any mention that part of the problem with the police investigation is that they were on the receiving end of bribes from News Corp.

The only thing more grating than their arrogance is their victimehood. Apparently the only controversy is that the rest of the media world is ganging up on the long-suffering Wall Streeters and their bosses:

“It is also worth noting the irony of so much moral outrage devoted to a single media company, when British tabloids have been known for decades for buying scoops and digging up dirt on the famous. Fleet Street in general has long had a well-earned global reputation for the blind-quote, single-sourced story that may or may not be true.”

It’s not only Fleet Street. The “blind-quote, single-sourced story that may or may not be true,” is the standard operating procedure for Fox News. But why is the Journal so surprised about the moral outrage devoted to News Corp when it, so far, is the only party accused of hacking into people’s phones? And it is the only party, so far, accused of bribing the police for dirt on the famous. By the way, that is very different than the practice of “buying scoops” from private sources that the Journal is attempting to conflate with paying off the police.

The obvious attempt to muddy the discussion continues when the Journal addresses the critical of issue of relationships between politicians and the press:

“The British politicians now bemoaning media influence over politics are also the same statesmen who have long coveted media support. The idea that the BBC and the Guardian newspaper aren’t attempting to influence public affairs, and don’t skew their coverage to do so, can’t stand a day’s scrutiny.”

Here is where the op-ed deliberately tries to steer away from the real problem. Even if we were to concede that the BBC and the Guardian seek to influence public affairs through their coverage, the activities that are being “bemoanded” are those where News Corp seeks influence through intimidation and/or alliance with politicians, not via their reporting (which, of course, they do as well).

Next we see the editorial take another stab at victimhood with an unusual kicker aimed at a favorite bogeyman of News Corp, Julian Assange.

“We also trust that readers can see through the commercial and ideological motives of our competitor-critics. The Schadenfreude is so thick you can’t cut it with a chainsaw. Especially redolent are lectures about journalistic standards from publications that give Julian Assange and WikiLeaks their moral imprimatur.”

First of all, I don’t know of any mainstream news organization that has given WikiLeaks their moral imprimatur. For the most part Assange has been roundly castigated and, so far as Fox News is concerned, he is regarded as a traitor who should face a firing squad. But the Journal is being stunningly hypocritical in that they themselves have adopted the Wikileaks model in an attempt to emulate its success. That is the express mission of the Journal’s Safehouse web site. Unfortunately, there is nothing safe about Safehouse, which does little to protect one’s anonymity. So unless you have some perverse desire to be ratted out, arrested, or sued, stay as far away from this un-Safehouse as possible.

Finally, the Journal launches into a defense of allegations that the U.S. could prosecute News Corp under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. But somehow they spin off such a prospect into an attack on their First Amendment rights. The implication is that any prosecution of a media entity for any crime whatsoever violates the Constitution. That’s a rather broad reading. The Journal complains that…

“Applying this standard to British tabloids could turn payments made as part of traditional news-gathering into criminal acts. The Wall Street Journal doesn’t pay sources for information, but the practice is common elsewhere in the press, including in the U.S.”

Is the Journal asserting that payoffs to police officials is an act of “traditional news-gathering?” In most places that’s a violation of law enforcement ethics and it is the reason that the commissioner of Scotland Yard resigned yesterday.

Moreover, the Journal’s closing argument is that the pursuit of criminal activity on the part of the press has, in the past, netted individuals who were not initially suspects. The example given in the editorial is that of Robert Novak who had participated in the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame. The Journal notes that others, including reporters at the New York Times, were swept up in the scandal. So What? That’s wonderful! Is the Journal suggesting that the press should keep its collective mouths shut because they might get drawn in themselves? That would be the duty of an honest, ethical press. Report the news – the truth – regardless of self-interest.

It’s as if the Journal is threatening its rivals to stay out of this mud fight lest they get dirty themselves. Really? That’s their defense?

Fox News On Hacking Scandal: Move Along, Nothing To See Here

This morning on Fox and Friends, Steve Doocy interviewed PR flack Bob Dilenschneider in an attempt to whitewash the devastating scandal that has been roiling News Corp, the parent company of Doocy’s employer, Fox News. The discussion was strikingly self-serving, hypocritical, and dishonest. It began with Doocy asking Dilenschneider this question:

Doocy: What do you make of what…this particular hacking scandal with the News of the World?
Dilenschneider: Well, the News of the World is a hacking scandal, it can’t be denied, but the issue is why are so many people piling on at this point? We know it’s a hacking scandal, shouldn’t we really get beyond it and deal with the issue of hacking?

Rupert MurdochOf course! Move along people. Nothing to see here. Rupert Murdoch’s newspapers were caught hacking into the phones of politicians, celebrities, murdered schoolgirls, and victims of terrorist attacks, but that’s no reason to dwell on on it for a week or two. To continue this inquiry is just more “piling on.” Especially since we don’t even know the depth to which this scandal will eventually sink. After all, Murdoch has shut down his largest circulation paper in the UK, canceled his planned takeover of BSkyB (his largest attempted acquisition ever), and accepted the resignations of his top executives at News International and Dow Jones (the parent company of the Wall Street Journal). Surely that’s proof of how unimportant this is. Shut up already.

Dilenschneider goes on to equate incidents of hacking that took place at industry and government sites with the News Corp affair. This is an awkward effort to conflate the victims of industrial hacking with the victimizers and criminals at News Corp. Then Doocy offers this bit of commentary:

Doocy: The company’s come forward and they said, “look, this happened a long time ago – at a tabloid – in London.” Somebody did something really bad and the company reacted. They closed that newspaper. All those people got fired. Even though 99% of them absolutely had nothing to do with it.

Exactly! They fired a bunch of people who had nothing to do with it. What more do you want? And it was just a tabloid, so that hardly matters. But most importantly, it was a long time ago, so drop it already. Dilenschneider told Doocy that it was “a decade ago,” which is not true. The hacking was about six years ago and was effectively covered up. However, the most recent and disturbing revelations just came out a couple of weeks ago and are still coming out by the hour. You don’t see Fox News hammering away at old stories like that, do you?. Well, except for their highly coordinated attack on Media Matters which they have been pushing for three weeks. Doocy and his Fox and Friends pals have not let up on it for even one day. They even have an article on Fox Nation telling readers how to file a complaint with the IRS which they keep bumping up to the top of the “New Stories” list despite its non-newness.

Bob Dilenschneider, it should be noted, is a celebrated PR flack and crisis consultant. He specializes in rescuing the reputations of scoundrels. He is well known for working on the rehabilitation of Richard Nixon’s image post-Watergate. And he was the spokesman for Lou Dobbs as Dobbs was being pummeled for his anti-immigrant rantings.

In this matter Dilenschneider is conducting a textbook resuscitation procedure for News Corp and Murdoch. He tries to change the subject to unrelated incidents of hacking. He insists that his clients have done “all the right things,” despite having issued false reports and engaging in a steady drip of resignations. He declares that there are more important problems for people to focus on and should therefore ignore this one. In short, who cares, look away, we’re innocent.

He’s got his work cut out for him. Luckily, he also has the Fox News platform to implement his campaign of diversion and disinformation. Expect Fox to behave like a wounded mama bear. They are likely to strike out at someone or something in order to divert attention from their own nefarious dealings. Don’t be surprised if Fox News reports this weekend that President Obama was caught sacrificing children to Lucifer.

Murdochalypse: [Updated] The Fallout Continues: Rebekah Brooks AND Les Hinton Bail

Yesterday the Wall Street Journal somehow managed to snag an exclusive interview with Rupert Murdoch who, coincidentally, owns the newspaper.

Murdoch was typically defensive in a wholly delusional manner. He insisted that News Corp had handled the crisis “extremely well in every way possible,” making just “minor mistakes.” Minor mistakes like lying as to whether there was any crisis at all and conducting an internal investigation that concluded that any wrongdoing was limited to a single rogue reporter. The shuttering of the News of the World, the abandonment of the BSkyB acquisition, and several arrests later, those mistakes don’t appear to be all that minor anymore.

Murdoch also stuck by his corrupt son whom he said reacted “as fast as he could, the moment he could.” That was six years after the scandal broke and after young James had paid off several victims in an attempt to buy their silence.

This morning comes the news that the CEO of Murdoch’s News International, Rebekah Brooks, has resigned after steadfastly refusing to do so with the support of her boss, Rupert, who just days ago said that Brooks was his highest priority. So much for that. Brooks’ resignation statement said in part…

“As Chief Executive of the company, I feel a deep sense of responsibility for the people we have hurt and I want to reiterate how sorry I am for what we now know to have taken place.”

The problem for Brooks is that if she did not know what had taken place before this she is utterly incompetent. And, of course, if she did know, she is guilty of despicable and criminal behavior. It’s interesting that News Corp’s second largest shareholder, Prince al-Waleed bin Talal al Saud, told BBC’s Newsnight that she should resign if her involvement in the phone hacking scandal was “explicit”. Hours later she resigns. And remember, it was Brooks who warned that the next year would bring more trouble:

“We have more visibility perhaps with what we can see coming our way than you guys can. I am tied by the criminal investigation but I think in a year’s time, every single one of you in this room might come up and say ‘OK, well, I see what she saw now.’”

She’s right. In all likelihood there are still more revelations to come. The severity of the reactions to date suggest that all we have seen thus far is the tip of the iceberg. Murdoch, a notorious brawler, would not passively close a profitable, 168 year old newspaper, ditch the biggest business acquisition he has ever attempted, throw his trusted lieutenant under the lorry, and acquiesce to an inquisition by members of Parliament, if there weren’t something dreadful that he was trying to keep clamped down. His announcement that he will convene an “independent committee” to conduct his own inquiry is laughable, especially considering that he was forced to assign an unnamed “distinguished non-employee” to lead the effort. Presumably there no distinguished employees to call upon.

There are now a half dozen American lawmakers calling for various investigations from Congress, the Department of Justice, and/or the FBI (which has reportedly already opened an investigation). There have been at least seven arrests. The possibility of this affair crossing the Atlantic and involving allegations of the hacking 9/11 victims is the subject of much speculation. Fox News and its master, Roger Ailes, are not immune to this calamity. And if it goes there Rupert can kiss his evil empire goodbye.


[Update] Murdochalypse WOW! From CBS News:

Les Hinton, the chief executive of Dow Jones & Co., has resigned, becoming the latest News Corp. executive casualty in the phone-hacking and bribery scandal in Britain.

Hinton served as executive chairman of the British unit that oversaw News Corp.’s U.K. tabloid newspapers at the heart of the scandal for 12 years. A member of the board of The Associated Press, Hinton became head of Dow Jones in December 2007.

Hinton said in a statement that he was “ignorant of what apparently happened” but felt it was proper to resign.

The classic defense of scoundrels: Ignorance and/or victimhood. As the chief executive of Dow Jones, Hinton was responsible for the Wall Street Journal as well. And while he ran Rupert Murdoch’s British newspapers for 12 years, he worked for Murdoch for 52 years, beginning the association in Australia at age fifteen. With Hinton leaving, and Murdoch’s honorary daughter Rebekah Brooks gone as well, Murdoch is shedding his closest and most trusted allies. Can Roger Ailes be far behind?

This is looking more and more like some horrific news has still yet to bubble up from the Murdochian Hades. I’m beginning to wonder if there are bodies stashed somewhere.