SPLIT: Trump’s Personalities Have A Love/Hate Relationship With Fox News (w/Hysterical Kimmel Video)

Donald Trump recently told a gathering at CIA headquarters that he has a “running war with the media.” That may be the first true statement he’s made as president. Throughout his campaign he has attacked the press in the most virulent terms. Advocates for journalists published a statement declaring him to be “an unprecedented threat to press freedom.” His animosity toward the First Amendment is often chaotic and downright dangerous. For instance, on Wednesday he tweeted this:

The spectacle of a sitting president complimenting a news enterprise for its ratings success is both unprecedented and unethical. In a nation that honors a free press, the government is not supposed to be taking sides in these matters. Nor is it appropriate for a president to insult the millions of viewers of CNN by implying that they are stupid.

What’s more, Trump went further with his unprincipled remarks to lambaste CNN as “fake news.” That term is already beginning to lose any meaning as conservatives apply it to any news with which they disagree. However, Trump’s use of it is blatantly vengeful. He reserves his animus for those who have the audacity to criticize him. His purpose is to delegitimize the media in general so that he can disseminate his “alternative facts” (aka lies) with impunity. As a result, he is frequently at odds with himself.

Trump Split 2

Trump has not always been so fond of Fox News. During the campaign he frequently lashed out them when they were not sufficiently complimentary. For instance:

Further more, Trump said of Megyn Kelly that she “is the worst” and has a “terrible show.” He called Karl Rove a “total fool” and “a biased dope.” Chris Stirewalt was deemed “one of the dumbest political pundits on television.” He said that George Will is a “broken down political pundit” and “boring.” And Trump laughed off Charles Krauthammer as “a totally overrated clown,” “a loser,” and “a dummy.”

That, however, is all behind us now. At least until the next time Fox News manages to muster up a worthy criticism. In the meantime, Trump will surely persist in castigating CNN and others for doing their job. His administration is proving to be the most hostile toward reporters in modern times. It is a troubling trend that threatens not only the press, but democracy.

On the other hand, Donald Trump is the gift that keeps on giving to the world of comedy. His ignorant rants and obsessions with ego-driven trivialities are the basis for an endless stream of jokes. He has spent most of his first week as president whining about the turnout at his inauguration. It is eating him alive that it was so much lower than President Obama’s. That preoccupation with his hurt pride led to the infamous introduction of the absurd term alternative facts.” And when he was fixating on that he was revisiting his embarrassing loss of the popular vote.

Jimmy Kimmel is not one to let a good satire of Trump get away. Consequently, Tuesday night he put together a mock trailer for a sequel to M. Night Shyamalan’s hit movie “Split.” The story revolves around a character with multiple personalities and a decidedly hostile attitude toward women. Sound familiar?

In Kimmel’s sequel the star is Donald Trump. The clip contains several instances of Trump saying one thing, then contradicting himself. It also borrows from the real film with a psychologist confronting Trump to ask “Twenty-three identities live in Donald Trump. To whom am I speaking with now?” The answers in voice-over suggest Trump, Vladimir Putin, and Rosie O’Donnell. Later the female victims plot to escape their tormentor with one proposing that “The only chance we have is if all three of us go crazy on this guy.” Then it cuts to Trump saying “I have no idea who these women are.”

The parallels to real life are a little scary. However, the hilarity falls apart when a voice is heard worrying “What will happen when he unlocks the potential of his brain?” We know that Trump himself thinks that he has “a very good brain [because] I’ve said a lot of things.” That’s also his excuse for refusing to attend national security briefings. He told Chris Wallace of Fox News that such meetings were unnecessary because “I’m, like, a smart person.”

Unfortunately, while comedians are going to be celebrating a renaissance of humor, the rest of the nation is going to be get more and more depressed. Which, ironically, will create a greater need for comedians. So in light of that, enjoy Kimmel’s version of Trump in Split and try to carry on.

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

Trump’s Press Conference Was An Unholy Mess of Lies And Defensive Evasion

Most government ethics experts regard President-Elect Donald Trump as a walking violation of the Constitution. Some regard his pending inauguration as the moment he becomes subject to impeachment. Despite numerous promises, Trump put off explaining how his widespread business concerns will not result in actionable conflicts of interest. In fact, Trump hasn’t held a press conference on any subject since last July. That’s an unprecedented period of self-imposed muzzling that also deprives citizens of critical answers and information.

Donald Trump

The Donald’s Twitter feed records the history of his obfuscation and delay. It goes back to November 30, 2016, when he unleashed a multi-tweet declaration stating that:

[1] “I will be holding a major news conference in New York City with my children on December 15 to discuss the fact that I will be leaving my … [2] great business in total in order to fully focus on running the country in order to MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN! While I am not mandated to [3] do this under the law, I feel it is visually important, as President, to in no way have a conflict of interest with my various businesses.. [4] Hence, legal documents are being crafted which take me completely out of business operations. The Presidency is a far more important task!

Less than two weeks later Trump cancelled that “major news conference” and tweeted the much more vague:

No reason was offered for the cancellation, nor was a new date provided. Then, on the day he had originally promised the press conference he tweeted:

If it’s so simple, then why didn’t he just meet the press, explain it, and get it over with? His own comments hinted at the answer to that by describing the work that his lawyers were going through in preparation for the press conference. Then, on January 3, 2017, he finally tweeted a new date for the unveiling of his business plans. However, now the press availability was designated as having a general purpose, rather than one to specifically address the looming conflicts of interest:

Wednesday Trump finally held the long-promised press conference. Unfortunately, he failed to adequately address the outstanding issues that have accumulated while he sheltered himself in a media-free bunker. Among the issues that he avoided while hiding on Twitter were the persistent allegations of voter suppression. His loss of the popular vote. Charges by at least a dozen women who claim he sexual assaulted them. Payment of $25 million to settle a lawsuit to compensate the fraud victims of his phony Trump University. His white supremacist (aka alt-right) cabinet and administration appointees.

For the most part Trump repeated his standard stump speech and put up a self-serving defense without providing any new information. He assailed his critics and accused the media of smearing him. Here is some of what we “learned” in the hour long affair:

  • We stopped giving [press conferences] because we were getting a lot of inaccurate news.
    So that’s a reason to refrain from speaking to the press yourself?
  • Hacking is bad and it shouldn’t be done. But look at what we learned from the hacking.
    In other words, he’s praising the hacking that he says was bad. Maybe because it was only bad for Clinton.
  • If Putin likes Trump, that’s an asset.
    To whom? Certainly not to the nation that his naivete is putting at risk.
  • I’m also very much of a germophobe. Believe me.
    Thanks for sharing.
  • Trump’s still using the excuse of an IRS audit to refuse to release his tax returns.
    Someone tell him that as president the IRS reports to him.
  • The Trump Organization now has an Office of Chief Compliance Council to insure that it operates at the highest levels of integrity.
    He never had this before? Not surprising, really.
  • Trump was asked to affirm that he and his campaign had no contact with Russia.
    He didn’t even bother to answer the question, veering off into an unrelated subject.

Finally, Trump had a heated exchange with CNN’s Jim Acosta. When Acosta attempted to ask a question, Trump repeatedly refused to recognize him. Acosta tried to argue that since Trump had attacked his network, he should allow a question. Trump just said that he was “fake news” and turned away.

So now Trump is applying the term “fake news” to one of the premiere national news networks in the world. Whatever one thinks of CNN, it is entirely different from the miscreants who fabricate false stories for profit. For instance, The National Enquirer, which Trump hails as a reputable news organization. But CNN, for the time being, has been blacklisted by Trump.

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

Having watched this press conference, it is apparent that we didn’t miss much during Trump’s seven month evasion from the media. He is still providing the same hollow and defensive answers to questions that he is comfortable addressing, and ignoring everything else. This is pretty much what we can expect for the next four years, if he lasts that long.

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

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

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

Monica Crowley

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sexual Harassment Claim Against Bill O’Reilly Secretly Settled By Fox News

The den of misogyny and debasement known as Fox News has suffered another blow to its reputation for family values. It’s only been a few months since Fox fired Roger Ailes, their founder and CEO, due to allegations of sexual harassment. About a dozen women lodged complaints against him, most notably Gretchen Carlson, who won a multimillion dollar lawsuit.

Bill O'Reilly Megyn Kelly

On Monday a new report revealed that Fox’s top star, Bill O’Reilly, has also been the target of harassment allegations. Former anchor Juliet Huddy made the complaint over charges stemming from her employment in 2011. She asserted that O’Reilly made unwanted advances and sexually explicit phone calls wherein he appeared to be masturbating. Additionally, he threatened to adversely affect her career and retaliated when she proved to be an uncooperative victim. The complaint also named Jack Abernethy, the newly appointed co-president of Fox who replaced Ailes.

The news reports indicate that Fox News paid a substantial amount to settle with Huddy. Both Fox News and O’Reilly, however, deny the charges. The settlement was arranged in secret and stipulated that Huddy refrain from disclosing its terms. According to the report:

“LawNewz.com has confirmed the settlement with three separate sources including a former Fox News executive with direct knowledge of the matter. In addition, we obtained a draft of the intent to sue letter which was sent or handed to Fox News and listed the allegations of sexual harassment against both men. While we weren’t able to confirm the exact amount of the settlement, our sources tell us the amount paid out was in the high six figures. Neither Abernethy, nor O’Reilly paid any money out personally and, we are told, Abernethy and O’Reilly strongly denied all of the charges made against them by Huddy from the start.”

This isn’t the first time that O’Reilly has undergone scrutiny for such misbehavior. In 2004 he paid a multimillion dollar settlement to a former producer, Andrea Mackris, who alleged that he harassed her. Plus, he has been accused by his own children of physically assaulting his ex-wife, an act for which he lost custody of his kids.

There appears to be an environment at Fox News that allows for the toleration of this sort of abuse. It’s part of a pattern of behavior where women are exploited and on and off camera. In the Ailes era female anchors were forbidden to wear pants on sets without desks. To say nothing of the infamous “leg cam” that was deployed to feature the assets of their mostly young, blonde presenters. Ailes biographer Gabriel Sherman documented some of the techniques Fox employed to satisfy their largely male audience in his book “The Loudest Voice In The Room.” For instance:

  • When the view of reporter Kiran Chetry was obstructed, Ailes called the control booth to demand that they “Move that damn laptop, I can’t see her legs!”
  • Ailes complained about host Catherine Crier’s attire saying that “I did not spend x-number of dollars on a glass desk for her to wear pant suits.”
  • The casting of The Five included one particular co-host because “I Need The Leg. That’s Andrea Tantaros.”

Even former Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly got reeled in. She recently revealed her own experiences with sexual harassment by Ailes and left Fox to join NBC News. But in a revealing pictorial for GQ Magazine a few years ago, her appearance was very much a part of Fox’s marketing. She was asked about her own “glass table that shows off your legs.” She responded that “Well, It’s a visual business. People want to see the anchor.” That must be why Bill O’Reilly wears those low-cut blouses.

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

Tweet Storming With Trump: The ‘Working With Russia’ Edition

It looks like Twitter is going to continue to be the preferred mode of communication for President-Elect Donald Trump. Despite criticism of the press for obsessing over every Trump tweet, you can’t cover him without covering his Twitter rants. That’s because he hasn’t held a press conference since last July. And his new press secretary is proposing to eliminate the daily White House press briefings. They believe that Trump’s tweets are an effective means of reaching American citizens with their 140 character simplifications and lies.

Donald Trump

If this is the method of disseminating policy that Trump has chosen, it needs to be treated as such. To ignore it would result in his comments being unchallenged and accepted as true. That would be a huge mistake. So News Corpse is inaugurating the recurring series: Tweet Storming With Trump. And this first edition is destined to be a classic. So let’s get started.

This is an easily provable lie. The democrats were no more negligent than the Republicans. The report by the intelligence community stated explicitly that “Russia collected on some Republican-affiliated targets but did not conduct a comparable disclosure campaign.”

First of all, Trump is calling many of his GOP colleagues “stupid” and “fools” because they are smart enough to realize that Russia is NOT our friend. Now I’m not going to argue about their stupidity and foolishness, but it’s clear to anyone with a functioning brain stem that Russia has hostile intentions toward America and its interests.

Secondly, we do have enough problems around the world, and Russia is causing more than its share of them. They are annexing parts of neighboring countries. They are bombing our allies in Syria. They are hacking our elections, and those of our European allies. With friends like that, who needs enemas.

Thirdly, If Russia respects the U.S. more when Trump is president, it’s only because they put him there to serve their interests. Why wouldn’t you show respect for the puppet government you worked so hard to install?

Finally, Trump is exhibiting severe dementia if he thinks that Russia is interested in solving the world’s problems. It would be helpful if he could cite an example of that. The truth is that they are only interested in advancing their own power, and Trump is helping them do it.

Stay tuned for future episodes of Tweet Storming With Trump.

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

Trump’s Latest Tweet Threatens The Media (And Press Freedom) For Doing Their Job

Friday morning Donald Trump took another step toward the totalitarian dystopia he yearns to rule. He’s spent months disparaging the intelligence community on which he must rely. At the same time he has defended Russia from charges of hacking that has now been proven beyond question.

Trump Baby

And now he is proposing concrete actions to punish the free press that he so blatantly abhors. This is what he tweeted this morning while waiting to be briefed on the Russian hacking report:

The frightening aspects of that cannot be be understated. Trump is proposing an investigation of a news organization that did precisely what is expected of it. NBC utilized its sources to acquire government information that is relevant to all citizens. And contrary to Trump’s frantic accusation, there is no indication that any of it was top secret. The government was going to release a public version of the report anyway. NBC just scooped them.

What is apparent is that Trump is more concerned about NBC getting info that’s about to be released anyway, than he is about Russians hacking American citizens and political organizations. He is distracting from the far more significant news that Russia had helped him achieve his tainted victory. They even celebrated and congratulated themselves for their successful effort.

It’s important to note the distinction between what Trump’s allies in Russia did and what NBC did. The hackers stole private information from individuals and organizations. That data was not public property. Russia, WikiLeaks, et al, were not revealing government secrets that the people had a right to know. NBC, on the other hand did just that. The Intelligence reports they previewed were paid for by taxpayers for their benefit. So NBC was performing a public service, while Russia/WikiLeaks was invading privacy. But only the privacy of Democrats so as to assist their favored candidate, Donald Trump.

Trump doesn’t care about Russians hacking an American election. He has defended them, and his BFF Vladimir Putin, from the start. Even worse, he has maligned the dangerous work of American patriots serving their country. Under the circumstances, one has to wonder why any intelligence operative would risk their life for Trump during his administration.

Trump has also been a constant foe of the free press. He has called reporters “sleazy” and “dummies” and “liars” and worse. Respected journalists had their credentials revoked to prevent them from covering his rallies. Organizations that represent the interests of journalists have condemned him as a “threat to press freedom unknown in modern history.”

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

That condemnation is playing out bigly today with this new attack on the press. And Trump has still never called for a congressional investigation of the Russian hacking. His whining about NBC sharing intelligence before he has seen it rings hollow. After all, it’s easy to get intelligence before Trump sees it when he doesn’t even bother to take intelligence briefings.

UPDATE: As it turns out, about six hours before Trump’s tweet WikiLeaks posted a tweet that is eerily similar:

That tweet also falsely states that the information NBC reported was “Top Secret.” And it makes the point that NBC received the info before Trump. Considering the similarities it is likely that Trump simply copied the contents of the WikiLeaks tweet for his own. And that’s just more proof that they are working together.

It’s also astonishing that WikiLeaks is complaining about “leaks” to the media. That’s their whole friggin’ reason for existing. But those dishonest hypocrites go nuts when someone else disseminates information acquired through legitimate journalistic means (as opposed to hacking and theft) if it is adverse to their partisan agenda.

Russians Congratulated THEMSELVES For Trump’s ‘Victory’ – Wonder Why?

The heads of several Intelligence agencies testified before Congress today to deliver their report on election hacking. The full report has not yet been made public. Nor has Donald Trump received a briefing on its contents (which should occur Friday). But that didn’t stop him from posting preemptive tweets aimed at belittling the intelligence community.

Putin Voted

Surprisingly, what he seems most upset about is not the conclusions that Russia was deliberately interfering with the American election. His tweet assailed the fact that NBC obtained information which they subsequently reported:

So Trump is complaining that a news organization is doing its job. Acquiring information from trusted sources and informing the public is a suspicious activity in Trump’s mind. That is, unless it’s Julian Assange who is doing it. But it’s not surprising that Trump would want this information to be suppressed. The consensus conclusion from the Intel agencies is that Russia was positively involved in hacking the Democratic National Committee and other targets. Their aim was to interfere with the U.S. electoral process generally, and to help Trump specifically. Among the evidence cited was the interception of revealing communications:

“Senior Russian officials celebrated Donald Trump’s election victory as a geopolitical win for Moscow, the Washington Post reported on Thursday, citing U.S. officials who said intercepted communications showed the Russians congratulating themselves on the outcome.

“The ebullient reaction among high-ranking Russian officials – including some who U.S. officials believe had knowledge of the country’s cyber campaign to interfere in the U.S. election – contributed to the U.S. intelligence community’s assessment that Moscow’s efforts were aimed at least in part at helping Trump win the White House, the Post reported.”

The fact that the Russians were patting themselves on the back for a job well done is pretty damning evidence of intention. But Trump’s response ignored that entirely. He was more interested in raising doubts about the reliability of the intelligence. So he tweeted:

What’s going on is that Trump’s assertions were predictably off-base. The DNC addressed these issues and told BuzzFeed that they dispute these claims and that they fully cooperated. They assert that the FBI did not ask for access to the servers. The DNC provided the FBI with all the information they had from the cyber security firm that examined their systems. That firm, CrowdStrike, has a stellar reputation and was was considered a reliable source by the FBI.

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

So once again, Trump goes off the rails to rant about things unrelated to the primary news. And then he even gets the facts about that wrong. Eventually, Trump is going to have to face the truth and address what he knows about the hacking. He cannot continue to divert attention to irrelevant side issues forever.

Alarming New Law Could Allow ‘Voice Of America’ To Turn Into Trump’s Pravda

The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) is a federal agency with seventy-four years of history. It was created to produce pro-western news stories for distribution around the world. It was intended to advance democracy and counter propaganda in countries suffering from stiff censorship and suppression of free speech.

Donald Trump

The BBG manages outlets like the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe, among others. However, its mission of late has been muted by bureaucracy and mismanagement. In an effort to address these problems Congress passed a reform bill that would phase out the bipartisan board and replace it with a CEO to be appointed by the president.

These reforms were not considered especially controversial when they were proposed. They even received some bipartisan support in Congress. However, with the election of Donald Trump, some of the initiative’s backers are having second thoughts. As Politico reported:

“President-elect Donald Trump is about to inherit a newly empowered Voice of America that some officials fear could serve as an unfettered propaganda arm for the former reality TV star who has flirted for years with launching his own network.

“Buried on page 1,404 of the National Defense Authorization Act that passed last week is a provision that would disband the bipartisan board of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, the independent U.S. agency that includes Voice of America, Radio Free Europe, Radio Free Asia and the Middle East Broadcast Networks.”

Trump and his cohorts have demonstrated that they are not above lying to manufacture narratives that support their interests. Consequently, the new BBG could wind up being a version of Trump TV that is “financed by taxpayers to the tune of $800 million per year.” And with other recent legislation, there’s nothing to stop this agency from airing its broadcasts in the United States. This is troubling because the reformed board could produce propaganda aimed at American citizens and distribute it through conventional media and news programming.

Now some people might be thinking “So what? Isn’t that what Fox News already does?” And they would be right. Fox News is the de facto PR division of the Republican Party. And with the elevation of Trump to the White House, Fox becomes the President’s official mouthpiece. However, another production entity with a nearly billion dollar budget should not be dismissed. It’s programming could be distributed to hundreds of small TV stations throughout the country who could air it for free. This would expand the reach of the right’s propaganda to millions of new households.

The congressional managers of the bill insist that their reforms preserve a “firewall” that prohibits political influence from the White House or the new CEO. They maintain that journalists would still have a free hand to produce their own stories. But if the new CEO was inclined to throw his weight around, he could still bully his subordinates into submission. Plus he could hire journalists that were pre-screened for right-wing, ideological purity. Imagine someone like Stephen Bannon (Trump’s Strategic Advisor and former chairman of Breitbart News) in that role. And Roger Ailes, former CEO of Fox News, is looking for work after having been fired for sexual harassment. He and Trump are best buddies.

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

Both Democratic and Republican members of the current board have expressed concerns about the reforms. They recognize the potential for abuse without strict oversight. The Washington Post notes that, “If Congress’s intention was for US broadcasting to rival the Kremlin’s, it may well get its wish.” And what would make Trump happier than to emulate his hero in Russia with his very own version of Pravda?

Donald Trump Cancels Press Conference To Address His Sleazy Conflicts Of Interest

The specter of Donald Trump’s business relations continues to hang heavily over his pending administration. For months there has been concern over the far flung enterprises that could have a profound impact on how he might govern. The opportunity for personal enrichment is more than speculation

Donald Trump

Foreign government officials are already trying to curry favor with Trump by booking rooms at his hotels. What’s worse, Trump has projects in countries whose leaders could use their presence to blackmail Trump. That can take the shape of denying permits or other regulatory requirements that would kill the projects. But it could also involve harassment, and even imprisonment, of Trump’s local associates.

There is no way to adequately prevent such activities without Trump completely divesting himself of his businesses. Simply handing them off to his kids would not suffice. Everyone, including Trump, would still know how to influence the leader of the free world. So two weeks ago, in an attempt to address these problems, Trump announced that he would hold a press conference. In a series of tweets (of course) he said that:

“I will be holding a major news conference in New York City with my children on December 15 to discuss the fact that I will be leaving my great business in total in order to fully focus on running the country in order to MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN! While I am not mandated to do this under the law, I feel it is visually important, as President, to in no way have a conflict of interest with my various businesses..Hence, legal documents are being crafted which take me completely out of business operations. The Presidency is a far more important task!”

Once again, Trump still thinks that his kids would provide the necessary distance to avoid potential corruption. But all it does is appoints his kids as the executors of his worldwide graft and bribery operations. It could not be characterized as a “blind trust” and would still be a tempting target for favors or threats. However, even his promise to hold a press conference on these dubious terms is not being kept. On Monday he disgorged another set of tweets saying:

These remarks leave numerous questions unanswered. There is still no clarification of how he would address his glaring conflicts of interest. And he still offers his family as phony managers of his financial empire. No legal ruling has been made as to whether he might be in violation of the law. Although many experts believe the Constitution would prohibit his continued ownership status. The definition of “new deals” could mean anything. And despite the “busy times” he’s still not too busy to watch Saturday Night Live and meet with Kanye West.

Finally, by canceling the press conference that was scheduled for this Thursday, Trump has relieved himself of the responsibility to provide answers for these questions. He now says that he will hold a press conference sometime in January. That could mean so close to, or even after, the inauguration that it would be impossible to research and respond. Plus, he is combining that proposed press conference with several other unrelated subjects.

Trump has not held a press conference in the five weeks since Election Day. That’s the longest period a president-elect has gone without a post-election press conference in forty years. But it’s even worse than that because he hasn’t had a formal press conference at all since July. In fact, with only a few exceptions, he hasn’t been interviewed on a non-Fox News outlet in nearly six months. This was so egregious that Fox News even reported it.

This deliberate snubbing of the press has enabled Trump to avoid some serious issues. For instance, persistent allegations of voter suppression and his loss of the popular vote. Charges by at least a dozen women who claim he sexual assaulted them. Payment of $25 million to settle a lawsuit to compensate the fraud victims of his phony Trump University. His white supremacist (aka alt-right) cabinet and administration appointees. His unsavory connections to Russia and its efforts to interfere with the election. And, of course, his chronic and ethically compromising conflicts of interest. The lengthening list of political atrocities makes it impossible to cover in a single event.

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

No one knows whether Trump is going to hold a press conference to address any of these issues. He broke his promise to do so on Thursday and could do the same next month. Or he could hold another press conference that turns into an infomercial for his hotels and cheesy products. He’s done that before as well. The bottom line is that he cannot be trusted to keep his word or to abstain from personally enriching himself and his family. This charlatan needs to be watched like the vulture he is lest he consume what remains of our country, it’s democracy, and freedom.

Why Vladimir Putin Should Be Time’s Person Of The Year Instead Of Donald Trump

On Wednesday morning Time Magazine revealed their Person of the Year (POY) for 2016. Not surprisingly, they chose Donald Trump. He was certainly a fixture in the media for eighteen nauseating months and dominated much of the political discourse. However, by Time’s own criteria for selecting their annual cover story, Trump may not have been the most appropriate choice.

Trump Person of the Year

Time defines the POY as “the person who most influenced the news, for better or for worse.” It is not necessarily, as Trump described it upon hearing of his selection, “a great honor.” In fact, it can be an outright disgrace as illustrated by some past selections like Stalin and the Ayatollah Khomeini. In Trump’s case, his selection may be more along those lines.

Nancy Gibbs, Editor-in-Chief of Time, says of Trump’s selection that “There is a profound argument about whether his influence was for the better or for the worse.” And Time’s article profiling him also addressed some of the darker aspects of his character:

“For all of Trump’s public life, tastemakers and intellectuals have dismissed him as a vulgarian and carnival barker. A showman with big flash and little substance. […]

“Instead of painting a bright vision for a unified future, he magnified the divisions of the present, inspiring new levels of anger and fear within his country. […]

[H]e proved that tribal instincts never die. That in times of economic strife and breakneck social change, a charismatic leader could still find the enemy within and rally the masses to his side.”

Indeed, Trump embraced an unprecedented reliance on division and scapegoating. His “us vs. them” tactics appealed to a nervous populous that fears the unavoidable demographic changes that are in progress. But does any of that justify his selection as Time’s Person of the Year? Did he really have more influence on the news than anyone else?

While Trump did seem to be on an endless loop across every news network, he can’t be given credit for that exposure. The cable news broadcasters voluntarily donated their airtime to Trump. They covered his stump speeches live and uninterrupted for hours on end. They allowed him to conduct phone interviews where he was rarely challenged or held accountable for his remarks. It wasn’t so much a matter of him influencing the news as the news exploiting his unpredictability for ratings.

But there is an even better argument for why Trump did not earn this POY selection. Much of the noise surrounding his campaign was generated by somebody else. Working behind the scenes, Russian President Vladimir Putin was responsible for influencing the news throughout the election year. His interference in American politics was pronounced and frightening. And all of it was aimed at electing Donald Trump. For instance:

Hacking the Democratic National Committee:
The first stirrings of Russian operatives in the U.S. election process came during the Democratic convention in July. The DNC email system was hacked into and private communications stolen from it were published. For some reason the media found it acceptable to make these private documents public. Remember, these were not government documents that the public has a right to know about.

Hacking Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s email:
The email account of Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman was also hacked. Again, this was private information that the media made public at the behest of Russian agents. While there was no wrongdoing revealed in these emails, there were things that partisan politicos could exploit and put a negative spin on. They succeeded in turning a huge portion of the campaign into a debate over emails that ultimately proved nothing.

Wikileaks support:
The Russian hackers delivered their stolen data to Wikileaks for distribution. From there Wikileaks released thirty-six separate batches of Clinton’s email. They deliberately strung it out over time in a manner designed to have the most detrimental effect on her campaign. Occasionally they would release a batch timed to a damaging news story about Trump in order to divert the media attention to Clinton and away from Trump.

Hacking voting systems in several states:
Reports of these efforts were the most direct intrusions into actual election processes. Hackers working on behalf of the Russian government are suspected in the onslaught against more than 20 state election systems

Spreading pro-Trump fake news:
The Washington Post reported that “The flood of ‘fake news’ this election season got support from a sophisticated Russian propaganda campaign that created and spread misleading articles online with the goal of punishing Democrat Hillary Clinton, helping Republican Donald Trump and undermining faith in American democracy.” The epidemic of fake news actually outperformed news from more conventional and reliable sources.

The incidents outlined above arguably resulted in the bulk of media attention throughout the election year. They drove the media narrative and spurred the production of additional stories. Trump himself relied on the information stolen by Russians for much of his campaign rhetoric.

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

Consequently, Trump was a secondary factor in the influence of news events in 2016. It was Vladimir Putin who was actually steering the events that dominated the news. Putin and his agents succeeded in manipulating both the American press and the American political system. He got his man into the White House. And Trump was nothing but a prop on a much larger and more perilous stage. He is more worthy of being named Puppet of the Year.