Journalists’ Org BLASTS Trump As ‘An Unprecedented Threat’ To Press Freedom

The United States has never seen the likes of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. He has spent the last year and a half engaged solely in puerile insults and personal attacks. His victims have included women, minorities, veterans, and anyone he deemed less than reverential. However, the media has borne much of the weight of his manic scorn. When he isn’t “joking” about killing them, he is calling them scum, losers, dummies, and sleazy. He has revoked the press credentials of people or organizations he doesn’t like, including the Washington Post, BuzzFeed, the Huffington Post, Fusion, Univision, and more. For a couple of hours he even boycotted Fox News.

Donald Trump

Trump’s hostility toward the press is frighteningly intense. And his authoritarian attitude should alarm anyone who values free speech. Just last week two Pulitzer Prize winning journalists told NPR that Trump is a “clear and present danger” to the First Amendment. Now the Committee to Protect Journalists is weighing in with a statement “in response to Trump’s threats and vilification of the media.”

Here is the statement in full:

Guaranteeing the free flow of information to citizens through a robust, independent press is essential to American democracy. For more than 200 years this founding principle has protected journalists in the United States and inspired those around the world, including brave journalists facing violence, censorship, and government repression.

Donald Trump, through his words and actions as a candidate for president of the United States, has consistently betrayed First Amendment values. On October 6, CPJ’s board of directors passed a resolution declaring Trump an unprecedented threat to the rights of journalists and to CPJ’s ability to advocate for press freedom around the world.

Since the beginning of his candidacy, Trump has insulted and vilified the press and has made his opposition to the media a centerpiece of his campaign. Trump has routinely labeled the press as “dishonest” and “scum” and singled out individual news organizations and journalists.

He has mocked a disabled New York Times journalist and called an ABC News reporter a “sleaze” in a press conference. He expelled Univision anchor Jorge Ramos from a campaign press conference because he asked an “impertinent” question, and has publicly demeaned other journalists.

Trump has refused to condemn attacks on journalists by his supporters. His campaign has also systematically denied press credentials to outlets that have covered him critically, including The Washington Post, BuzzFeed, Politico, The Huffington Post, The Daily Beast, Univision, and The Des Moines Register.

Throughout his campaign, Trump has routinely made vague proposals to limit basic elements of press and internet freedom. At a rally in February, Trump declared that if elected president he would “open up our libel laws so when they write purposely negative and horrible and false articles, we can sue them and win lots of money.” In September, Trump tweeted, “My lawyers want to sue the failing @nytimes so badly for irresponsible intent. I said no (for now), but they are watching. Really disgusting.”

While some have suggested that these statements are rhetorical, we take Trump at his word. His intent and his disregard for the constitutional free press principle are clear.

A Trump presidency would represent a threat to press freedom in the United States, but the consequences for the rights of journalists around the world could be far more serious. Any failure of the United States to uphold its own standards emboldens dictators and despots to restrict the media in their own countries. This appears to be of no concern to Trump, who indicated that he has no inclination to challenge governments on press freedom and the treatment of journalists.

When MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough asked him in December if his admiration of Russian President Vladimir Putin was at all tempered by the country’s history of critical journalists being murdered, his response was: “He’s running his country, and at least he’s a leader, unlike what we have in this country… Well, I think that our country does plenty of killing, too.”

Through his words and actions, Trump has consistently demonstrated a contempt for the role of the press beyond offering publicity to him and advancing his interests.

For this reason CPJ is taking the unprecedented step of speaking out now. This is not about picking sides in an election. This is recognizing that a Trump presidency represents a threat to press freedom unknown in modern history.

Nuff said.

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

UPDATE: On October 13, the Committee to Protect Journalists issued an “unprecedented” statement declaring Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump “a threat to press freedom unknown in modern history.” And October 14, the National Press Club put out a statement condemning Trump’s anti-press tactics as “unacceptable and dangerous to our democracy.”

Tweet-Storming With The Whiner-In-Chief, Donald Trump

Nothing illustrates desperation more than the frantic whining of someone who knows he’s losing badly but refuses to admit it. Donald Trump is a textbook case of this. Ever since his disastrous convention, Trump’s prospects have been sinking like an elephant in a tar pit. According to Gallup, the Republican convention actually resulted in more people saying they are less likely to vote for him. That’s the first time that has ever happened since polling on that question began.

Trump Baby

As Trump’s popularity declines he is behaving more and more erratically. His deranged assertions that Obama “founded ISIS,” that the elections will be “rigged,” and shamelessly insulting a Gold Star family, paint a picture of a pathetically deluded loser. And now he is directing his impotent fire at the media:

Trump is getting increasingly unhinged (to the degree that’s possible). He has also taken to calling the media “the worst human beings in the world.” There may be some victims of terrorism who disagree with that. However, the media must be so proud for having overtaken Hillary and ISIS in the Race for the Worst in Trump’s deranged head.

Having an active imagination must bring Trump some comfort. Because that’s the only way he can believe that he would be beating Clinton by twenty percent, even with more friendly media. As for not being covered properly at his rallies, they generally point a camera at him and let him rant. That is SO unfair. Holding him accountable for the things he actually says is the ultimate dirty trick.

It’s funny that Trump is complaining that he is losing to someone who “is not a talented person or politician.” Think how badly he would be losing if Clinton WAS a talented politician. And by the way, it absolutely IS freedom of the press “when newspapers and others are allowed to say and write whatever they want.” That’s the definition of freedom of the press. Even if you don’t like what they’re saying. But keep it up, Donald. Because nothing solves a cratering campaign like whining.

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

Donald Trump Loser

Pro-Censorship Fox News Says Government Should Seize Profits From Snowden Biopic

Taking their propaganda business model one step closer to police state fascism, Fox News is now advocating government censorship of film producers for projects that challenge their right-wing world view. This became all too apparent on today’s episode of Fox & Friends during an interview with Tom Fitton, the president of the ultra-conservative Judicial Watch group.

Fox News Snowden

The “Curvy Couch” potatoes of Fox & Friends aired a transparently hostile segment (video below) on director/producer Oliver Stone’s upcoming biographical film about Edward Snowden, the systems administrator turned whistle-blower, who leaked documents that revealed the NSA’s mass surveillance programs. The segment began with the trio of co-hosts suggesting that Stone’s film “could violate federal law” and that “the DOJ may be able to seize [its] profits.” The first question Fitton was asked was specifically about that possibility. He responded:

“Well, if they were interested in pursuing where these profits were going and who is funding this movie, because Oliver Stone was working with Mr. Snowden who had no right to the information he had. As a fugitive he’s under indictment. And typically you can’t benefit from moneys that you may earn from stealing government property and betraying your country.”

Notice that Fitton did not offer any evidence that Snowden was benefiting from the film. He merely planted the suggestion and inferred that Stone’s working with him was in itself suspicious. Although any competent film maker would seek to get first hand accounts from the subject of a biopic if that subject were available.

Notice also that the outrage expressed by Fitton, and shared by the Foxies, for someone who “stole” information was never shown toward the thieves who hacked the Democratic National Committee. And those thieves actually were working for a foreign government (Russians) who had hostile intentions toward the U.S. Undeterred by reason or patriotism, Fitton went even further with his baseless inferences against Stone:

“Mr. Stone knew something was up with respect to Mr. Snowden because he made a point of saying that ‘I stuck to making this movie in Munich,’ because he was, quote, ‘afraid of the NSA.’ If he was doing a regular movie what would he have been afraid of?”

First of all, there is nothing unsavory about making a film in Munich, especially when it places you 3,000 miles closer from your home base in New York to your primary source in Moscow. Secondly, the very topic of the film validates any concern Stone might have had about interference from the NSA.

Most importantly, Fitton’s assertion that Stone should have nothing to fear if he were making a “regular” movie (whatever that is), is reminiscent of the assurance from authoritarians that, so long as you’re not doing anything wrong, it shouldn’t bother you if the government reads your email, listens to your phone calls, or searches your bedroom closet. What are you afraid of, comrade? The absurdity of Fitton’s comment even seemed to make Fox’s co-host Tucker Carlson nervous. He gingerly asked:

“So I’m not defending Oliver Stone, or of course Snowden, but the NSA did spy on Americans who had nothing to do with terrorism, so maybe Stone’s not a total paranoid. But more to the point, every news organization in America reprinted information that Snowden stole. So by the standard you just held, should every news organization also be liable for abetting a criminal?”

Fitton’s defensively knee-jerk response to this was “Not necessarily.” He reiterated that Stone’s meetings with Snowden somehow made the whole relationship an unholy conspiracy. According to Fitton “Snowden is no whistle-blower,” and his actions were tantamount to “treachery.”

At this point Fox’s co-host Pete Hegseth chimed in that “There’s no doubt that Snowden’s disclosure helped groups like Al Qaeda and others.” And once again, he provided no evidence for such a serious charge. But he did gave Fitton the opportunity to present his own wingnut theory that “The Obama administration is no fan of our nation’s security.” Fitton is obviously in the camp that regards Obama as a foreign-born Muslim terrorist sympathizer.

The notion that the federal government is empowered to confiscate profits from a filmmaker, based on the content of the film, is a blatant violation of the principles of free speech. It is a breach of constitutional liberties and merely threatening to do so would have a chilling effect on the rights of free people. It is by definition censorship.

The fact that Fox News would provide a platform for someone advocating this, and then fail to repudiate it, is indicative of Fox’s affinity for rightist tyranny. And it’s further proof that the mission of Fox News has nothing to do with the pseudo-patriotic image they attempt to manufacture for themselves and sell to their dimwitted audience.

Please do visit the Snowden film website and watch the trailer for the movie that is coming out September 16.

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

Crybaby Trump Revokes The Washington Post’s Press Credentials In A Childish Tantrum

Tough-talking Donald Trump has proven again that his macho image is as phony as a diploma from Trump University. Within a couple of hours of his first post-Orlando speech, wherein he ranted about the evils of “radical Islamic terrorism” and the traitors who refuse to say those three magic words, Trump announced that he was too scared to face the bone-chilling visage of reporters from the {shudder} Washington Post. He posted a message on Facebook declaring that…

“Based on the incredibly inaccurate coverage and reporting of the record setting Trump campaign, we are hereby revoking the press credentials of the phony and dishonest Washington Post.”

Donald Trump Crybaby

Trump didn’t bother to enumerate any instances of the Post’s alleged dishonesty because he expects his disciples to accept whatever he says as gospel without verification. That’s pretty much the same take he has on matters of policy which he never details because he knows his supporters simply don’t care.

The likely reason for banishing WaPo is related to a Facebook post he made just prior to the credential revocation. He complained about a headline in the Post that correctly reported his implied assertion that “President Obama was involved with Orlando shooting.” Again, Trump didn’t bother to elaborate, but his actual commentary said “Look, we’re led by a man that either is not tough, not smart, or he’s got something else in mind […] There’s something going on. It’s inconceivable.”

The Post was not the only news organization that noticed Trump’s suggestion that the President might be an accomplice to a terrorist act. Every broadcast news network reported the same story with similar headlines:

Add to that group other similar media reports from The Atlantic, Mother Jones, The New Republic, Salon, Esquire, Vice, Chicago Tribune, Politico, Time, Huffington Post, Los Angeles Times, and Reuters, and you have an awfully large chunk of the media who risk losing their press credentials to cover the Trump campaign.

Trump’s campaign has been a hotbed of media discontent for many months. His treatment of the press got so bad at one point that an assembly of media companies got together to discuss what could be done about it. This was after numerous incidents wherein reporters were mistreated by Trump or his staff, including confinement to journalist “pens” and revocation of credentials from reporters the campaign deemed to be unfriendly such as BuzzFeed, the Huffington Post, Fusion, Univision, the Des Moines Register, and the New Hampshire Union Leader. Additionally, Trump threw an anchor for Univision, the largest Spanish-language TV network in the country, out of one of his press conferences. He even briefly boycotted Fox News.

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

This is behavior that marks Trump as both cowardly and tyrannical. After all, how can he claim to be able to stand up to Putin or ISIS when he’s running scared from WaPo and Mother Jones? His response to coverage that is less than adoring is to revert to the tactics of a wannabe dictator. He even promised that, as president, he would “open up our libel laws” governing the media so that he “can sue them and win lots of money.” As repugnant as that is coming from a political candidate, it would be far more troubling coming from the White House. Trump is demonstrating an overt hostility to the principles of a free press, and if his narcissistic authoritarianism and ignorance weren’t already enough reason to keep conscientious Americans from voting for him, this should seal the deal.

Is Fox News Shielding Donald Trump From Release Of Damaging Courtroom Video?

News organizations generally favor having access to as much information as possible. It is, in fact, their mission to compile as much raw data on a subject as they can in order to present a complete account to the public. It is almost unheard of for a media company to decline to advocate for access to relevant information, particularly from a government or legal entity. And yet, that is exactly what Fox News is doing.

Trump News Channel

A motion filed Friday with the U.S. District Court in San Diego is petitioning for the release of video depositions of Donald Trump made in connection with the fraud case against him and his defunct Trump University. And, yes, that’s the same court presided over by Judge Gonzalo Curiel who Trump has been attacking in a baseless and racist effort to smear the judge as unfair.

The videos referenced in the filing have the potential to reveal a more accurate representation Trump than the one he carefully crafts with his media and public appearances. The motion was filed on behalf of every major television news network (ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN), as well some of the most prominent newspapers (New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune).

Well, make that “almost” every major television news network. There are a couple of conspicuous holdouts who have not joined this filing, most notably Fox News. Along with Fox, the Wall Street Journal, another cog in Rupert Murdoch’s media machine, did not participate in the filing. This raises questions as to whether Fox News is deliberately abstaining so as not to harm the electoral prospects of the candidate they openly support, or to avoid aggravating Trump and thus lose access to his frequent and profitable appearances on the network (he has boycotted Fox News in the recent past). Another more fanciful theory is that Trump has dirt on Fox News, and/or its CEO Roger Ailes, and is steering clear for fear of retaliation.

The motion filed by the press succinctly describes the argument in favor of releasing the videos. It’s an argument that rests on the public’s right to know and the importance of transparency during a presidential campaign. The opening paragraphs say…

“For many years, Defendant Donald J. Trump has been at the center of an ongoing controversy over his namesake, Trump University (“TU”). This lawsuit – one of several actions alleging that TU defrauded its customers and encouraged their participation in the volatile late-2000s real estate market – drew significant public attention even before this year’s Presidential election.

“Now, Defendant is the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, and has made his business acumen an important element of his campaign. Thus, this lawsuit not only raises important questions about Defendant and his organization, it has become a prominent electoral issue. Opposing candidates have pointed to the allegations in this case in criticizing Defendant’s qualifications for the presidency; Defendant has cited TU as an example of his business success, and made this litigation itself a campaign issue.

“Given the undeniable and substantial public interest in these proceedings, the need for transparency could not be greater.”

Trump’s legal team is, predictably, opposing this motion, although they have not yet laid out the details of their rebuttal. But it’s one thing for Trump’s lawyers to argue against releasing material that will prove detrimental to his case and reputation. It’s their job to insulate him from legal jeopardy. However, it is not the job of Fox News, or any media enterprise, to protect Trump from embarrassing disclosures and to help him keep such information from the public.

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

By their conspicuous absence as plaintiffs in this filing, Fox News is signaling both their allegiance to Trump and their contempt for a free press. While they often feverishly complain that President Obama, Hillary Clinton, and other Democrats lack transparency, Fox is demonstrating that their “fair and balanced” slogan is nothing more than a phony marketing gimmick. If the court rules in favor of this motion Fox News will almost certainly air the videos that become available. But look for them to air along with vigorous defenses of Trump and attempts to dismiss their relevance and malign his critics. It’s the Fox News way.

GOP Senator Attempts To Strongarm Facebook Over Bias Allegations

In what may be one of the most alarming examples of government overreach, the Republican chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, Sen. John Thune, is injecting himself into the operations of Facebook’s news publishing. Upon hearing about a report by Gizmodo that Facebook might be slanting the articles that appear in their Trending Topics section, Thune fired off a letter to Facebook demanding an accounting of their procedures.

John Thune Facebook

It needs to be stated firstly that the article on Gizmodo consists only of unsupported allegations from anonymous sources. They claim to be former Facebook contractors so their shield of anonymity seems peculiar since Facebook cannot retaliate against them. However, without any identity it’s impossible to know whether they have ulterior motives or are disgruntled ex-employees lashing out for their own reasons. They provided no documented proof to support their claims of bias. Yet they did admit that “there is no evidence that Facebook management mandated or was even aware of any political bias at work.” So the whole story may be the overblown product of personal grudges. Which makes what happened next all the more troubling.

After the story was pumped through the conservative media echo chamber, where Fox News took particular interest (more on that later), it eventually landed on the desk of Sen. Thune. His response was to write a letter to Facebook expressing his concern that the company might be inappropriately influencing its audience. The letter said…

“Facebook has enormous influence over users’ perceptions of current events, including political perspectives. If Facebook presents its Trending Topics section as the result of a neutral, objective algorithm, but it is in fact filtered to support particular political viewpoints, Facebook’s assertion that it maintains a ‘platform for people and perspectives from across the political spectrum’ misleads the public.”

Thune also stated in a press release about the letter that…

“Facebook must answer these serious allegations and hold those responsible to account if there has been political bias in the dissemination of trending news,” said Thune on sending the letter. “Any attempt by a neutral and inclusive social media platform to censor or manipulate political discussion is an abuse of trust and inconsistent with the values of an open Internet.”

Oh really? So now the federal government is empowered to force a news provider to refrain from any political bias and, according to Thune, failure to do so is regarded as “an abuse of trust.” Asserting the heavy hand of government, Thune instructed Facebook to make its employees available to brief his committee. What’s more, Thune asserts that Facebook is “mislead[ing] the public” if they falsely claim to be a “platform for people and perspectives from across the political spectrum.”

So when will Thune be sending a similar letter to Fox News? After all, Fox has been falsely claiming to be “fair and balanced” for years. They also have enormous influence over “perceptions of current events, including political perspectives,” yet they regularly “censor and manipulate” their reporting.

The arguments made by Thune are a flagrant violation of the constitutional right to the freedom of the press. Congress has no business interfering with the editorial decisions made by the journalists employed by Facebook. If there is bias in their work it can be reported by other journalists, protested by media watchdogs, and the public always has the opportunity to make up its own mind as to whether to patronize Facebook or any other news enterprise.

From the moment this story broke, Fox News has expressed their outrage that the liberal weasels at Facebook would dare to suppress conservative stories. They treated it as if the allegations were proven facts, which of course they were not. Facebook has already looked into the charges and responded saying that “We take these reports extremely seriously, and have found no evidence that the anonymous allegations are true.” But that hasn’t stopped Fox News from continuing to portray Facebook as being guilty of grossly prejudicing their news coverage.

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

Anyone who has watched Fox News for twenty minutes recognizes the absurdity of Fox complaining about another organization being biased. But the intrusion of the government on behalf of offended right-wingers who cannot even validate their charges is beyond the pale. Thune is overstepping his authority by threatening to investigate Facebook and demanding their compliance. Even Fox’s media correspondent, Howard Kurtz, was taken aback by Thune’s aggressive approach. Kurtz told Fox Business Network host Trish Regan that “If Thune had sent a letter like that to the New York Times or the Washington Post or Fox News we’d probably tell them to buzz off.” And that’s exactly what Facebook should tell them.

[Update:] Steve Benen at MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow blog takes Thune to task noting that he is “The wrong Republican to pick a fight with Facebook.” As a leading opponent of Net Neutrality and the defunct Fairness Doctrine, Thune previously condemned the sort of government intrusion he is currently engaging in. In a 2007 article he said that “the hair stands up on the back of my neck when I hear government officials offering to regulate the news media and talk radio to ensure fairness.” Perhaps he shaved his neck since then.

Racist Moron Declares His Gun Store To Be A “Muslim-Free” Zone

Andy Hallinan is the owner of a gun store in Florida who has had enough of the senseless violence that his products cause. Well, that is if said violence is committed by a devotee of a specific religion – in this case Islam – to which he is virulently opposed. His solution to the problem is to deny service to all Muslims.

Muslim-Free Zone

Announcing the implementation of this flagrantly biased policy, Hallinan posted a video on YouTube (see below) that reeks of both bigotry and ignorance in painfully huge doses. Not surprisingly, Fox News promoted this revolting diatribe on their Fox Nation website. Hallinan begins by warning his fellow fear-infected viewers that…

“We’re in a battle, patriots. The leaders of the country want you to believe that this [Confederate] flag represents white supremacy, hatred, and intolerance. That’s not true.”

Hallinan then delivers an abbreviated remedial history of the flag that ignores the contemporary embrace of it by openly racist people and organizations, including the KKK and white supremacists. He entirely leaves out the fact that the flag had virtually disappeared from public display for nearly a century after the Civil War until it was removed from mothballs as the banner of southern segregationists in the 1950’s and 1960’s. [Side note: Hallinan also seems not to have noticed that, in his hasty patriotic zeal, he hung his flag upside-down (notice the stars)]

He goes on to whitewash the flag’s symbolism as representing “nothing but the rich heritage of the South and the willingness of patriots to stand up against tyranny of all sorts.” By that he must mean the rich heritage of slavery and standing up against the tyrants who fought against it under the flag of the United States of America.

After insisting that he is not a racist, Hallinan asserted that “Racism was on the decline in America until Obama took office.” Perhaps he missed the obvious subtext of his own statement, which is that the emergence of the country’s first African-American president brought out the racist cockroaches who had slithered under the floorboards as advancements in civil rights made it more difficult for them to showcase their hatred in public.

Then this “not-racist patriot” inserted video clips of civil disturbances in Baltimore to shore up his claim that he isn’t racist by presenting images of African-Americans engaged in riots following the tragic and unexplained death of Freddie Gray while in police custody. Hallinan never brought up the reasons for the protests, nor did he show the vast majority of protesters who were peaceful. Clearly his intent was to leave a decidedly negative impression of the protesters. And he wasn’t through yet.

“Our leaders are telling you that the cross is a symbol of intolerance and hatred, bigotry, anti-homosexuality. Don’t believe their lies. Our leaders are telling you that Islam is a peaceful religion, full of tolerance and love and hope. Don’t believe their lies.”

I wonder which leaders he is referring to that are making those charges against the cross. He doesn’t say. But he does reveal more of his rancid prejudice with his ridiculous and contemptuous perception of Islam. Hallinan then warned his viewers that they are in “a battle with extreme political correctness that threatens our lives.” Who knew that political correctness could be a mortal foe?

This is when Hallinan got to the meat of his presentation. Saying that he “will not train and arm those who wish to do harm to my fellow patriots,” he declared his store a “Muslim-Free” zone. That course of action is so patently idiotic that it is hard to know where to begin. So let’s start with the fact that he is violating the Constitution by discriminating against people on the basis of their religion. Apparently the patriotism that he espouses so freely is conditional when it comes to equal protection of the law.

What’s more, this moron doesn’t explain how he is going to determine the religion of his customers in order to discriminate against them. Maybe he only intends to discriminate against Muslims who look Middle-Eastern. But then he will likely also be denying service to brown-skinned folks who are Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jews, and even other Christians. Maybe he could use beards as an indicator. But then he would have to send away ZZ Top and the Duck Dynasty family. And of course, any European Muslims like the Tsarnaev brothers who bombed the Boston marathon would escape detection entirely.

Perhaps even more absurd is the fact that Hallinan is violating the favorite Amendment in the Bill of Rights for right-wing nut cases like himself. The Second Amendment says nothing about permitting the infringement of the right to keep and bear arms from people associated with a particular religion. Although it does include a qualification for “well regulated Militias,” which they generally like to ignore. In Hallinan’s perverted view, law abiding and patriotic American Muslims have no right to protect themselves or their families with firearms. Apparently Hallinan is unaware that the most frequent target of Islamic extremists like ISIS is other Muslims. And never mind the fact that many Muslims are currently serving with distinction in the U.S. military. Many have even given their lives defending this country.

Just for the record, Hallinan doesn’t seem to have any problem with selling guns to domestic abusers, rapists, drug traffickers, car-jackers, bank robbers, serial killers, suicides, or right-wing domestic terrorists. At least he doesn’t have a policy addressing any of those. And they occur with a far greater frequency than any Muslim violence. In fact, the sort of guns that he sells are responsible for about 30,000 deaths in the U.S. each year.

It is always somewhat depressing to stumble upon the sort of deranged idiocy that people like Hallinan represent. And unfortunately, there are way too many like him. They are the core audience of Fox News. They are the listeners of Glenn Beck. They are the disciples of evangelical hucksters like Pat Robertson. And they are the voters who are currently swarming around their Meathead Messiah, Donald Trump.

Hallinan closes his video screed by proclaiming definitively that Islam is evil and that our government is not to be believed. So apparently he has hostility for both in equal measures. Yet he still considers himself a patriot. The final frame of the video tells his frightened viewers to “Get armed. Get trained. Carry daily.” But of course he only means that if you are recognizably not Muslim, because Hallinan will not do business with you if you are.

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

The Stink Of Censorship: News Corpse BANNED On Reddit/Politics

That’s right. News Corpse was banned as an “Unacceptable Domain” by the martinets of virtue at Reddit.

[Update: After a prolonged dialogue, News Corpse was reinstated, it’s honor restored, and you can now visit the previously expunged post]

[Update II: I spoke too soon. Another moderator has intervened to say that my website will continue to be banned even though he can’t articulate a coherent reason why. So on it goes.]

Reddit Bans News Corpse

For the past few weeks there has been a raging battle on the Reddit forum for politics. Known as a “subreddit” (or sub) the Politics section was created to be a venue for discussion, debate, and the exchange of information. Unfortunately, recent decisions by the moderators resulted in a venue where that exchange has become something less than free.

The problems began when the moderators revised a list of banned sites that would be automatically removed from the politics sub. The list contains numerous news sites that are recognized as major contributors to the political discourse, including Alternet, The Heritage Foundation, Media Matters, Mother Jones, National Review, Reason, Salon, and ThinkProgress. [Mother Jones has since been reinstated]. The new policy was quickly denounced by the community at large who reamed the moderators as censors, McCarthyites, and myriad other displays of verbal waterboarding.

At first the moderators defended their actions as necessary to curb the alleged plague of what they called “blogspam,” “sensationalism,” or “bad journalism.” Obviously, it is impossible to fairly adjudicate most of these subjective principles without violating standards of free expression. The fact that respected journalists like the award-winning reporters at Mother Jones made the list is evidence of the foolishness of such lists. A politics discussion forum is supposed to be unfettered and open to broad-based opinions. By slapping blanket bans on the domains of credible media sites, the moderators exposed themselves to the criticisms and insults that, in many cases, they thoroughly deserved.

After a couple of weeks of torment, the moderators took a step back and reconsidered their new policy. They apologized for acting too swiftly, but not for the actual sin of imposing the bans. The community was not mollified by this tepid response and continued to hammer away at the moderators. The mods position at this point is that they will review the sites that were banned and reverse any that they deem to have been banned inappropriately. However, that reeks of putting random people in prison and then promising to arrange future trials whereby they may eventually earn their release. And it still leaves a handful of moderators in charge of the content to which some three million readers will have access.

Which brings us to the subject of this article. This morning a Reddit user named antistatusquo submitted an article from News Corpse. The submission was immediately removed and tagged as an “Unacceptable Domain.” When I noticed this I sent a message to the moderators to inquire as to why my domain was suddenly regarded as unacceptable. I was not on the banned list and never had been. The first response I got was from a new moderator who speculated that my Scarlet Letter was due to the fact that another website, Americans Against the Tea Party, which for some unexplained reason is on the banned list, has shared some of my articles on their Facebook page. What that has to do with my status on Reddit is a mystery, and it reveals a disturbingly ignorant grasp of social media. It also smacks of a sort of perverse guilt-by-association. What’s next, will they ask me to name names?

Later, a more experienced moderator responded who said that the removal of “my” post was simply because the domain was banned. I had to explain that the post that was removed was not mine (it was by antistatusquo), and that, in any case, the domain was not banned (unless they had a secret banned list that was not available to the public). After a few more back-and-forth messages, the mod determined that the whole thing was a mistake. The post was restored and the “unacceptable” tag was removed.

[As noted above, the ban was later reinstated by a different mod. His justification for doing so was an accusation that I had “spammed” on behalf of my website. He sent me his analysis, covering a full year, showing that about 17% of the articles I had submitted were from my website. However, the posted rules explicitly define spamming as “If a user submits to any one domain more than 33% of the time.” So I was at about half of that threshold according to his own numbers. When I pointed this out to the mod he stopped responding to my messages]

The moral of this story is that censorship is not an innocuous act that can be toyed with without producing tangible harm. Once it is invoked it’s effects can spread and multiply. Reddit still has their banned list in place while they claim that they are reviewing the prisoners for possible parole. But in the interim, there are sites like mine that are getting caught up in the net of suppression without justification. Although the problem in my case was eventually resolved, the hours it took to do so resulted in the posting falling below many other subsequent posts so that fewer people would ever see it or have the opportunity to vote on it. [if you would like to visit it now, click here]

Hopefully the Politics sub moderators will quickly conclude that they made a terrible mistake and restore the banned domains and let the community vote on which they think are deserving or not. That is the whole concept behind the Reddit website, and it works brilliantly if the moderators will let it.

So F**cking What? Obama’s Clandestine Conspiracy To Go Golfing

With everything going on in the world today, much of the right-wing media has decided to make a federal case of President Obama playing golf with Tiger Woods and not permitting the media to tag along.

Fox News

How dare the White House shut the media out of Obama’s private time with a golf pro. What are they plotting? Is Woods giving the President advice on how to nail porn stars? Is Obama recruiting Woods to run the FEMA golf courses where wealthy conservatives will be incarcerated?

So F**king What?

Fox News White House correspondent Ed Henry bitterly complained that “There is a very simple but important principle we will continue to fight for today and in the days ahead: transparency.” Henry’s devotion to hard-nosed journalism is admirable. He’s just the sort of uncompromising reporter who will expose the next Kardashian scandal.

And while we’re on that subject, Henry’s Fox News colleague, Charles Krauthammer, doesn’t concur with Henry’s assessment of the important principle here. When Krauthammer was asked about this breaking news he said “If the guy wants to play golf, the guy deserves a couple of days off. He wants privacy? Big deal… This is the biggest non-story the media have created since the Kardashian weddings.” The only thing Krauthammer missed was that the media responsible for creating this non-story was the one that pays his salary.

Not So Breitbart: Branding Sandra Fluke A Retroactive Public Figure

The legacy of Andrew Breitbart is safe in the hands of those who have assumed control of his Internet enterprise. It’s that legacy of lies, defamation, and ignorance, that endures in articles like the one posted yesterday that asserts that Sandra Fluke was a public figure when Rush Limbaugh broadcast a vile commentary that referred to her as a slut and a prostitute. And thus, she is fair game for libelous attacks.

It is rather dumbfounding that even after Limbaugh made an (insincere and weak) expression of regret, even after his advertisers have abandoned him in droves, apologists like the Breitbrats are still defending his boorish misogyny.

The column by William Bigelow begins by mocking President Obama for advocating public discourse “that doesn’t involve you being demeaned and insulted. Particularly when you’re a private citizen.” Bigelow then makes the argument that there is a legal basis for Fluke to be considered a public figure. He cites a Supreme Court opinion in the case of Gertz v. Robert Welch, Inc., which addressed the standards of libel for defamatory statements. In refuting the representation of Fluke as a private citizen, Bigelow wrote…

“According to the Supreme Court in Gertz v. Robert Welch, Inc. (1974), public figures include those who ‘have thrust themselves into the forefront of particular public controversies in order to influence the resolution of the issues involved … they invite attention and comment.'”

Consistent with the Breitbartian proclivity for misrepresentation and taking edited content out of context, Bigelow deliberately quoted a brief portion of the opinion that described a commonly held view of what might constitute a public figure, but he left out the conclusive language that found that the plaintiff was not, in fact, a public person:

“We would not lightly assume that a citizen’s participation in community and professional affairs rendered him a public figure for all purposes. Absent clear evidence of general fame or notoriety in the community, and pervasive involvement in the affairs of society, an individual should not be deemed a public personality for all aspects of his life.”

The court found definitively that Gertz, was not a public figure. Nevertheless, Bigelow cites this case to try to prove that Fluke, who was unknown to the public when she was prohibited from appearing before a congressional committee hearing that almost nobody would have seen anyway, was a public figure.

It is not the least bit surprising that Bigelow chose this particular case with which to deceive his readers. The plaintiff, Elmer Gertz, was an attorney who had represented the family of man who was murdered by a Chicago police officer. The respondent, Robert Welch, Inc., is better known as the John Birch Society, a virulently racist and McCarthyesque anti-communist organization. I’m sure that the Breitbrats have a great affinity for the Birchers.

Next Bigelow makes a bold attempt to assert that Sarah Palin is not a public figure. Seriously! Sarah Palin, who was governor of Alaska and a candidate for Vice-President of the United States. Sarah Palin who is currently a Fox News political analyst and still floats hints of running for office. Bigelow contends that “Palin was just as much a private citizen as Fluke,” because she is no longer a governor. Sometimes the addled logic of these cretins is physically painful.

What apparently set Bigelow off on all of this is a statement Fluke made at a forum in Washington, D.C., where she said…

“Numerous American women have actually written to me in the last few weeks saying that I should run for office, and maybe someday I will.”

To which Bigelow sarcastically added, “Sandra Fluke. Private citizen. Yeah, right.” So it was that statement on which Bigelow based the entire premise of his article, as well as his assertion that Fluke was a public figure, even at the time that Limbaugh broadcast his attack. And that was all that was necessary for him to jump to the absurd conclusion that Fluke was somehow retroactively a public figure because weeks afterwards she would speculate that “someday” she “might” run for office.

What is really amazing about this is that anyone actually regards the Breitbrats as having any credibility whatsoever. After their promotion of deceitfully edited videos about ACORN, Shirley Sherrod, etc.; after their embarrassing episode with Hug-Gate, the Derrick Bell non-scandal; and now this incoherent excuse to prop up their hero Rush Limbaugh despite nearly universal condemnation of his abhorrent behavior, the fact that there are still some people who pay any attention at all to the Breitbrats is a sad commentary on a certain sector of the human race.