It’s A (War On) Christmas Miracle: A World Without Rupert Murdoch

Subscribers to the Dish Network woke up this weekend to find that the level of ignorance and dishonesty that is pumped into their homes by their television provider had dropped precipitously. Due to a contract dispute between Dish and Fox News the network pulled their programming depriving the Dish subscribers of the feast of lies and propaganda that dominate Fox’s schedule.

Wonderful Fox-Free Life

For many viewers it is a Christmas wish come true. Of course, for many others it is like being unable to connect to their supplier of wingnut crack.

Fox is mounting a campaign to denigrate Dish and blame them for the stalled contract talks. But what Fox isn’t tell you is that they are using the negotiations to add new Fox networks to Dish’s service and triple the fees for their sports channels (which would likely result in higher rates for customers as those increases are passed on). Neither of those issues are a part of the current contract that is up for renewal. So this is a case of Fox attempting to strong-arm Dish into capitulating to their demands and using Fox News as the cudgel. Further evidence of this is that Dish offered Fox a short-term extension to keep the network on the air while negotiations continued, but Fox turned them down.

Unfortunately, this holiday good news has been tempered by an utterly boneheaded decision by Dish to temporarily replace the blacked-out Fox News channel with Glenn Beck’s The Blaze. That’s a little like pulling a fork out of your eye and replacing it with an ax. And you can rest assured that Beck will take full advantage of this accidental good fortune to escalate his lunacy to much larger and dumbfounded Fox audience. That oughta be fun.

Still, the notion of a Fox-free Christmas holds some appeal. It means that Dish subscribers will have to look elsewhere to be indoctrinated into the latest Fox scams. The result for many families is that their holiday gatherings may be free of Fox-itized relatives dampening the festivities with their conspiracy theories, hoax peddling, and hate mongering. It’s a prospect that was brilliantly imagined by the comedy team of Fry & Laurie (yes, that was Hugh Laurie of TV’s “House” fame). They produced a hilarious short film inspired by the classic “It’s A Wonderful Life,” that had a look at the world if Rupert Murdoch had never been born.

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And have yourself a merry little (war on) Christmas.

A Tip Of The Hat To The Now Immortal Stephen Colbert

The moment that America was dreading has come. And while parting is said to be a sweet sorrow, the finale of Stephen Colbert’s Colbert Report leaves open the possibility of a future meeting. In the meantime we will need to console ourselves with our memories of the past and our hopes for a “Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow.”

Colbert’s send off included a segment of his take off on Bill O’Reilly’s Talking Points Memo that Colbert transformed into “The Word.” The premise of the piece titled “Same to you, pal,” was his observation that nothing much has changed in the nine years that he has been doing the show. But no matter the sly references to ongoing wars and political debates, things definitely won’t be the same. There was a Colbert Report then, but there isn’t one now. That’s a big difference.

Stephen Colbert

Colbert was much more than a comedian, more than a satirist, more than a late night talk show host, and more than a commentator on contemporary culture. What set his program apart from any that had come before it was the way he integrated his fake persona into real life. It wasn’t good enough to throw punch lines at society’s targets. That would have been way too easy. Colbert interacted with them, and in doing so, made points that could not have been made any other way.

For instance, when he appeared at the White House Correspondent’s Dinner in 2006, he came in character. He broiled both President Bush (who was sitting a few feet away) and the entire audience of media elites. He noted that he was “appalled to be surrounded by the liberal media that is destroying America, with the exception of Fox News. Fox News gives you both sides of every story: the president’s side, and the vice president’s side.” But the coup de grace was the indictment he served up in the form of a tribute (one of his specialties):

“Over the last five years you people were so good — over tax cuts, WMD intelligence, the effect of global warming. We Americans didn’t want to know, and you had the courtesy not to try to find out. Those were good times, as far as we knew.

“But, listen, let’s review the rules. Here’s how it works: the president makes decisions. He’s the Decider. The press secretary announces those decisions, and you people of the press type those decisions down. Make, announce, type. Just put ‘em through a spell check and go home. Get to know your family again. Make love to your wife. Write that novel you got kicking around in your head. You know, the one about the intrepid Washington reporter with the courage to stand up to the administration. You know – fiction.”

The “journalists” in the audience (along with such notable guests as Morgan Fairchild, Tommy Lasorda, Mitt Romney, Anna Kornikova, and “Dancing With the Stars” winner Drew Lachey) were caught in a frozen gasp as they tried to comprehend what just took place. Many of them rushed home to pen bitter criticisms of Colbert’s performance that they regarded as unfunny. But that didn’t salve their woulds.

Colbert also transported himself into Congress, again in character, as he lobbied on behalf of migrant farm workers. As usual, his shtick was as serious as it was humorous. When asked by Rep. Judy Chu why he chose to address this issue he said that…

“I like talking about people that don’t have any power. And it seems like one of the least powerful people in the United States are migrant workers who come and do our work, but don’t have any rights as a result. Yet we still invite them to come here, and at the same time ask them to leave.”

When Colbert decided to do a piece on how Super PACs allow politicians to skirt campaign financing laws and enrich themselves without any reasonable oversight, he didn’t just rant on television about it. He started his own very real Super PAC, Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow. It raised more than a million dollars that was donated to charity.

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There is so much more that could be recalled here, including the historic event in Washington, D.C. with his friend and producer, Jon Stewart: The Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear. It was a biting satire of Glenn Beck’s lame Restoring Honor rally, from a man who has never demonstrated any. But the best way to remember the Colbert Report is by letting the show speak for itself. So here is one of my favorite segments that skewers Glenn Beck’s debut on Fox News by asking “How far up your own ass are you willing to go?”

Colbert’s finale also saw him slaying the Grim Reaper, thus making himself immortal. So there may be more to come. At least we can look forward to Colbert’s return to television as the host of CBS’s The Late Show, succeeding David Letterman. You can rest assured that he will revolutionize the genre, as he did with the Colbert Report. Till then we will have to be satisfied with the bittersweet farewell he gave on his final program. The ending featured a cast of dozens of former guests and friends of the show singing the song “We’ll Meet Again.” But you have to wonder whether that selection was a wily reference to the ending of the film Dr. Stangelove, where the song had an ironic twist.

Robot Chicken Has Enlisted In The Fox News War On Christmas (Video)

Fox News kicked off its annual War on Christmas early this year with an October 16th report that slobbered buckets of panic sauce over the Obamanazis attempts to prevent unnecessary deaths from faulty Freedom Ornaments on Jesus Trees. And now the cold weather war escalates as Robot Chicken joins the fray.

Robot Chicken Fox News War on Christmas

Before I go any further… Yes, this is a real program. The Adult Swim animated fowl’s entry into the battle was announced in a press release that reads…

“The Nerd unleashes holiday havoc in this sneak peek of the Robot Chicken Lots of Holidays But Don’t Worry Christmas is Still in There Too So Pull the Stick Out of Your Ass Fox News Special.”

This offensive is certain to produce a stern response from Fox’s X-MAS Wolverines who will assuredly retaliate in farce. Expect Fool King Eric Bolling to name Robot Chicken his “Fool of the Week.” And don’t be surprised if Bill O’Reilly declares the Nerd a pinhead and lackey to the tyrannical Obama goose-steppers. Glenn Beck, of course, will uncover the clandestine relationship between the Cartoon Network and George Soros, who he’ll accuse of collaborating to install a Cartoon Caliphate in the Middle East Earth.

This escalation of hostilities is a harbinger of the apocalyptic doom that is rapidly approaching. There is no way out. So either pledge allegiance to the Fox Brigades defending traditional values or submit to Santa’s will in Hell. And have yourselves a merry Chicken Little War on Christmas.

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Stephen Colbert On The GOP’s Pernicious Scheme To “Fix” ObamaCare (Video)

As 2014 began there was a furious racket emanating from the Republican ranks over the Affordable Care Act and how it would be the all-consuming issue in the midterm election. In fact, Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee, was so adamant about keeping focused exclusively on ObamaCare that he told the National Review that…

“I think it’s going to be Obamacare all the time between now and November 5. If you ask me what day it is, I’m going to tell you it’s Obamacare. If you want to know what I want in my coffee, I’m going to tell you Obamacare. I’m going to talk about Obamacare all the time because I think it’s the No. 1 issue.”

He barely mentioned again. And as the year wore on, and the program was embraced by millions of Americans whose lives were profoundly improved, those plans evaporated and were replaced with fear mongering over manufactured crises like Ebola and ISIL.

Now that the election is over, the GOP is making noises about “fixing” ObamaCare, but their intentions are, to say the least, suspect. After trying more than fifty times to kill or cripple the program, they are still only interested in fixing ObamaCare in the same manner a Mafioso hitman is interested in fixing a rival mobster. Stephen Colbert took note of this trend (video below) and made it a feature of his program last night. And, as usual, he turned a complex and contentious issue into a hilarious and insightful comedic romp.

Particularly notable was his response to remarks made by “South Carolina congressman and guy who put his wig on backwards,” Trey Gowdy, to Megyn Kelly of Fox News. Gowdy was joining the pile-on against M.I.T. economics professor Jonathan Gruber, who inartfully explained some of the sausage-making that goes on when crafting legislation. [See The Right-Wing Freakout Over An ObamaCare Advisor Is Just More Bullspit]

Gowdy: I would say this to the professor, put down the cognac and the lost writings of J.D. Salinger. You will see how stupid our fellow citizens are. Take a look at last Tuesday night.
Colbert: Yes. If you want to see how stupid Americans are, just look at who they elected last Tuesday.

Stephen Colbert

Indeed. Colbert could have added Joni Ernst, Gordon Klingenschmitt, Jody Hice, Glenn Grothman, Paul LePage, and more to the list of certifiable fruitcakes who emerged victorious. He might also have noted that the claim that the election results represented America are vastly overblown considering that the turnout was only 36%, the lowest turnout since 1942.

Here is the segment from The Colbert Report for you entertainment pleasure:

Jon Stewart “Welcomes” New Daily Show Advertiser: The Koch Brothers (Video)

A couple of days ago while watching the Daily Show, I was struck by what seemed like an unusual commercial for this particular program. It was an image ad from Koch Industries that portrayed the pollution-spewing, anti-worker, right-wing corporation as neighborly shopkeepers that just want make the world brighter and happier. Given the audience composition of the Daily Show it was difficult to grasp what promotional goal the Kochs hoped to achieve.

Jon Stewart Koch Brothers

Well, Jon Stewart noticed the ad as well and was not content to let it go by without comment. And being Jon Stewart, the comment was hilarious. Plus it included a reworked version of the ad with a tag line that will reverberate across the InterTubes: “We’re Koch Industries – The next generation of robber barons bending the democratic process to our will since 1980.” Have a look.

Stewart managed to slam the Koch brothers for buying politicians, exacerbating climate change, poisoning tap water, and advancing their propaganda through academia. He even revealed their opposition to the minimum wage due to their lunatic notion that it would lead to Nazism. These are not generally the sort of things that a television program would say about one of its sponsors.

Stewart has to be given enormous credit for his courage and lack of self-interest in so mercilessly bashing a source of revenue. Perhaps the Koch brothers, and other propagandists seeking to engage in such brazen exploitation, will think twice about it in the future. Whatever benefit the Kochs hoped to gain by this ad strategy, they certainly lost many times over by daring to take advantage of Stewart’s viewers.

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F-Bombs For Feminism Asks What’s More Offensive: Saying F*ck Or Being Raped?

The video below has been making quite a stir for it’s raw approach to feminist advocacy. It is, to say the least, NSFW. It is already being condemned by the right-wing martinets of virtue, but some on the left are also likely to find it, shall we say, extreme.

FckH8

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Starting from the position that this video is going to be regarded as controversial, and even offensive in some circles, it nevertheless needs to be seen and the point it makes is a valid one. Personally, I think it’s adorable and the girls appear to be strong-willed, self-determined young activists with a healthy concern for what the world holds for them in their future. The producers at FCKH8.com introduce it by saying…

“Facing a future where women are still paid 23% less than men for the same work, and where 1 in 5 women are raped or sexually assaulted in gender-based violence, little girls between 6 and 13 years-old dressed as pretty pink princesses drop F-bombs to draw attention to society’s continued sexism. Asking the question, ‘What’s more offensive? A little girl saying f*ck or the sexist way society treats girls and women’ these adorably articulate little ladies in sparkling tiaras turn the ‘princess in distress’ stereotype on its head and contrast the F-word with words and statistics society should find shocking such as ‘pay inequality’ and ‘rape.'”

Fox News posted it on their Fox Nation fib factory with a headline that said “VILE: Little Girls Used as F-Bomb Pawns in Pro-Feminism Video.” Naturally, the network that promises to let you decide has decided for you. But that’s not how News Corpse works. So without further ado, enjoy and/or seethe:

New Ad Campaign Attempts To Convince Voters That Republicans Are People

The modern advertising industry has developed unprecedented techniques to persuade, cajole, and seduce the American people into directed patterns of consumption and lifestyles. Our decisions about which cars to drive or sodas to drink are all influenced by a steady stream of commercial messaging nearly everywhere we go. But now the Republican Party has taken on a public relations task that dwarfs all other efforts at opinion-making. They boldly aim to convince the American people that Republicans are people too.

Republicans Are People

GOP media manipulator, Vinny Minchillo, is the mastermind of this crusade to remake the Republican image into one that embraces a human component. He tried to do the same thing a couple of years when for Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign. Now Minchillo has created a website called “Republicans Are People Too.” and posted a video there to make a case for that dubious proposition (video also posted below). But the text accompanying the video conveys only a determination to whine about the plight of the poor, mistreated Republican. He moans that…

“It isn’t easy being a Republican these days. […] We love political discourse. We encourage political discourse. But when did “Republican” become a dirty word?”

Perhaps the answer to that question is: When Republicans started calling Democrats fascists, communists, moochers, whores, traitors, and devils.

Minchillo’s video is a simple production that seeks to enumerate a series of “regular” folks that he labels with a the hashtag “IAmARepublican.” It is a fairly comprehensive list of average Americans who are not generally associated with the exclusivity, racism, and intolerance of the Republican Party. It is no wonder that the GOP is yearning to attract more of the type of people in the video, because it is a cross-section of the nation that represents its diversity, a word that makes the right tremble. The video consists of a parade of alleged party members and asks “Did you know Republicans…”

Drive Priuses, recycle, listen to Spotify, put together IKEA furniture, are white, black, Hispanic, Asian, read the New York Times, use Macs, are grandmas, daughters, moms, are left-handed, are doctors, welders, teachers, donate to charity, enjoy gourmet cooking, shop at Trader Joe’s, like dogs, and cats, have tattoos, have tattoos and beards, have feelings, are people who care.

The problem with the argument that Minchillo is making is that the people claiming to be Republicans in his video are not actually Republicans. And by that I don’t simply mean that those types of persons are not Republican, which on the whole they are not. I mean that those specific people in the video are not. In fact, they were photos taken from stock image suppliers. A search for a random selection of the photos in the video found many of them in the iStockPhoto website’s library of images. The persons in the paragraph above that are links will lead you to the stock image page for each one.

So the video produced in order to convince everyone that Republicans are real people is populated by fakes. They are models pretending to be the characters that the video claims represent actual members of the Republican Party. And that’s about as real as it gets for the GOP.

This would be a hilarious aside to the pathetic PR that is constantly pushed by right-wing propagandists. But it is actually just another rung in their ladder of deception. It is reminiscent of the effort by Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign to persuade voters that “We’re Not Stupid.” When you have to mount an advertising blitz to sell the public on the notion that you’re not stupid, you have already lost the battle. And the same thing goes for a campaign to assert your people-ness. If the public doesn’t already know that you’re people, good luck trying to convince them.

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UPDATE: The Daily Show Airs Segment On Racists Upset About Looking Like Racists

This is to update an article from September 20 wherein the Daily Show interviewed some Redskins fans who later objected to being portrayed as the racists that they are. Last night the segment in question ran with commentary by Jon Stewart on the dispute. What follows is an excerpt from the original article and the video from the Daily Show.

Rednecks

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The setup for the segment involved four Redskins fans who the Post reports “eagerly signed up, most of them knowing that they might be mocked in their interview with correspondent Jason Jones.” The problem arose when they were surprised by a group of Native Americans who confronted them regarding their support for a term that is widely viewed as derogatory.

The Post describes one of the team’s fans as so upset that “she left in tears and felt so threatened that she later called the police.” Seriously? This woman felt threatened by peaceful civil rights activists engaging her in conversation with cameras rolling for a comedy show? The police, of course declined to take any action since there was no real threat and no laws were broken. But the fact that she felt compelled to report this act of felonious funning as a crime speaks to her own guilty conscience.

The fans complaining about how the segment unfolded were fairly open about what troubled them. They did not seem to regret their support for the team name or their own offensive comments. In fact, the Post noted that “All four fans said they still would have gone on the show if the producers had told them in advance that there would be a debate.” What they objected to was that they were allegedly not told that they would have to face some of the people they were maligning. One fan said that he would not have worn his Redskins jacket had he known there would be Native Americans there (Isn’t that considerate of him?)

In other words, they were perfectly happy to use insulting slurs against Native Americans so long as there weren’t any around to hear them. It’s not unlike racists who routinely use the N-word, except when there are African-Americans in the vicinity. It’s the same reason that the KKK wear hoods to conceal their identity. Bigots know that their views are repulsive and insulting, so they take pains to keep from expressing them in the company of those to whom their hate is directed.

Read the whole article here.

The Daily Show’s “ObamaCare Apocalypse” Rips Naysayers To Shreds

Once again, the Daily Show demonstrates why they are a better source for news than much of the mainstream press. While conservatives love to bash its viewers for regarding it as a news program, the truth is that Jon Stewart & Company frequently put the so-called “real” news to shame. (For the record, nobody thinks the Daily Show is a news program. They just recognize that it savagely skewers the many deficiencies of the media).

Daily Show Betsy McCaughey

In the “ObamaCare Apocalypse” segment, “correspondent” Jordan Klepper, goes into stark detail about the media handling of the Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare). He begins with a montage showing an assembly of talking heads, mostly on Fox News, spewing wild accusations about the health reform’s allegedly disastrous effects.

Klepper: “For years, television pundits have been doing important work sounding the alarm about ObamaCare.”
Lou Dobbs program: “We’re going to be, six to ten months from now, in a massive fiscal crisis.”
Klepper: “Come on, you can do better than that.”
Eric Bolling: “ObamaCare literally may kill you.”
Klepper: “Good, keep going.”
Ben Carson: “The worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery.”
Klepper: “That’s what I’m talking about.”

This parade of hyperbole is followed by a series of facts that Klepper finds facetiously disturbing. Such as the fact that the program’s popularity is steadily growing, medical costs are declining, more people are insured, and premiums are lower. He then sets out to interview subjects who will cooperate with his ACA bashing, but is frustrated to find only people who actually live in the real world. The highlight is his attempt to interview Betsy McCaughey, the originator of the death panel lie, who abruptly removes her mic and stomps off after the first question. You have to wonder why she agreed to do the interview in the first place only to immediately scamper away.

The segment concludes with a simple, yet profound, observation that sums up the coverage by Fox News and other conservative outlets:

“Luckily, to be an ObamaCare critic, being right is not a job requirement.”

Actually, that could be applied to nearly everything that Fox News broadcasts or is uttered by Republicans in Congress. Here is the whole segment for your enjoyment:

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Fox News Is The Conservative Daily Show, It Just Won’t Admit It’s A Joke

There is an article on Grantland by Brian Phillips that takes a look back at media satire on television. It focuses mainly on Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update, but mentions everything from Bob & Ray to Monty Python. It’s an interesting read, but this paragraph alone is worth the price of admission:

“Is it strange that, of all the current-events products currently on television, it’s often Fox News that feels most like a ‘Weekend Update’ bit? Critics are constantly asking why there’s no conservative Daily Show, but there is; it just won’t admit it’s a joke. The structure of Fox News is so deeply and basically comic that it’s impossible not to read it into the tradition of news satire. All those weeping paranoiacs! The fist-shaking curmudgeons! The gun-toting robo-blondes! Like ‘Weekend Update,’ Fox succeeded by taking the elements of a normal news broadcast and exaggerating them to ludicrous proportions. Only instead of Opera Man, it has Angry Immigration Crusader; instead of Mr. Subliminal, it has Jowly Operative Insinuating Things About Hillary Clinton’s Health; instead of Gay Hitler, it has Outmatched Token Liberal; instead of ‘Generalissimo Francisco Franco is still dead,’ it has Benghazi.”

Media Circus

Well said. And thanks to the wingnut brigade at NewsBusters for whining about this entertaining and accurate essay, without whom I probably would never have seen it.