Top Journalists Warn That Trump Is A ‘Clear And Present Danger’ To The First Amendment

Donald Trump’s presidential campaign has been rife with insults and attacks. His targets have included women, minorities, veterans, and anyone who dared to criticize him. However, no object of his scorn has been been more aggressively attacked than the media. Trump calls them dummies, losers, scum, and sleazy, and “jokes” about killing them. He revokes 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

The overt hostility that Trump displays for the Fourth Estate is unprecedented for someone seeking the presidency. And his tendencies toward authoritarian suppression of free speech hasn’t escaped the press he so fervently despises. Amy Goodman of Democracy Now recently interviewed two Pulitzer Prize winning journalists on this subject (video below). Their anxieties at the thought of a President Trump are worthy of the attention of all Americans.

David Barstow of The New York Times, and David Cay Johnston of The Daily Beast, and author of the book “The Making of Donald Trump,” had much to say about Trump’s aversion to freedom of the press. Here are a few excerpts:

Barstow: The letter that [Trump’s lawyers] sent to us before we published took the position that unless we had the specific blessing and permission of Donald Trump to write a story about his tax returns, we would be in violation of the law.

That, of course, is false. A journalist doesn’t require the permission (much less the blessing) of a public figure to publish a story.

Johnston: [Trump] called me at home on April 27th to threaten to sue me. Some of the freelance articles that I have written were lawyered way beyond all reason, out of fear. And I’ve had two news organizations say, “We can’t report that, because we’re afraid that Donald Trump will sue us.”

This is an example of the sort of intimidation that often causes editors to self-censor their reporting.

Johnston: If he gets elected, he will have the power of federal law enforcement. I’m not worried if he threatens to sue me, as he has, if he loses. But if he wins, he could put you and I and [New York Times editor] Dean Baquet on no-fly lists. And the courts have been very reluctant to let people off those, if the government claims national security. He can do all sorts of things to mess up your life. And he’s made it clear he will do this. He talks as if the president is a dictator with unlimited power, who doesn’t need to pay attention to Congress or to the courts. […] That’s what these threats of litigation should really concern the voters about.

Trump and his legal henchmen have already made the sort of threats described above. In one particularly chilling incident his lawyer, Michael Cohen, warned a reporter not to publish a story on Trump or he was “going to mess your life up.” Continuing the tirade he ranted “I’m warning you. Tread very f*cking lightly, because what I’m going to do to you is going to be f*cking disgusting. You understand me?”

Barstow: I think that anyone who cares about an independent free press should be paying closer attention to these kinds of threats, simply because they’re not normal.

Ya think? And these final two statements summarize the gravity of the threat that Trump poses, as envisioned by two esteemed and courageous reporters:

Barstow: I think that Mr. Trump, especially given the positions he’s staked out over the course of this campaign and his whole lifetime, would represent a really significant threat to the tradition of an independent free press in the United States.

Johnston: I think Donald Trump represents a clear and present danger to the liberties of the people, to the idea of the First Amendment. By his own words, he’s made it very clear, if he were president, he would do everything he could to suppress any speech that he doesn’t agree with or he sees as damaging to what he’s doing.

Trump has already had a noticeable effect on the public’s opinion of the media. A recent poll by Gallup shows that trust in the media has sunk to historic lows. According to Gallup this was largely driven by “Trump’s sharp criticisms of the press.” This despite the fact that Trump has had uncommonly positive coverage throughout the campaign. A study from Harvard University’s Shorenstein Center on Media provided the confirming data.

Nevertheless, Trump responds to coverage that is less than adoring by reverting 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.”

Now that may not be the sort of project on which a president ought to be spending his precious time. However, it’s precisely what one would expect from Donald Trump. It combines his compulsion for vengeance against his perceived enemies with an opportunity to further enrich himself. It’s a win/win for Trump, but a lose/lose for America.

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

UPDATE: The Committee to Protect Journalists issued an “unprecedented” statement declaring Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump “a threat to press freedom unknown in modern history.”

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.

Good News: No Boobs On Fox News

When I first heard that Fox News was taking steps to insure that there would be no boobs on their network, I was excited at the possibility that Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, Steve Doocy, etc., would soon be fired. To my disappointment, I later learned what the real story was that Fox News Blurs the Boobs on a Picasso Painting.”

Fox News Picasso

It turns out that it was the Fox News affiliate station in New York that so virtuously protected viewers from the sinful display of geometric breasts. But that doesn’t let Fox News off the hook entirely because the same man, Roger Ailes, runs both the cable news channel and the affiliate group. To its credit, the morning show on Fox5NY did their own bit of ridiculing the night crew that went too heavy on the blurring.

This is not the first time that overzealous conservatives took it upon themselves to sanitize the smutty, or otherwise inappropriate and dirty world, from decent Americans. Back in 2011 News Corpse documented a series of occurrences wherein free expression was not permitted by right-wingers:

A few years ago, Secretary of State Colin Powell was scheduled to give a speech at the United Nations to make the case by the Bush administration for going to war against Iraq. Prior to the speech he had aides cover up a tapestry depicting Picasso’s painting, Guernica. Powell was not going to make an argument for war in front of such a powerful and iconic anti-war statement.

Bush’s Attorney General, John Ashcroft, held press conferences in the Justice Department in a hall where the statue “Spirit of Justice” had stood for decades. In 2002 he ordered that the statue, a female representation of justice with one bare breast exposed, be covered by a drape. It’s not clear whether he was worried more about this being embarrassing or arousing.

Earlier this year, Paul LePage, the governor of Maine, had a mural removed from the Maine Department of Labor. The mural depicted scenes of Maine’s working citizens and the history of labor in the state. Obviously it has no business taking up space in the Labor Department.

And just this week, Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin removed a painting from the governor’s residence. The painting was of children from diverse backgrounds and was meant to remind the residents of that home, which belongs to the people of Wisconsin, of the impact their work has real families. Now Walker won’t have to be concerned with that unless he runs into some in person, in which case he’ll have much more to be concerned about.

As you can see, this is a recurring theme among the sanctimonious wingnuts who believe that their morality trumps yours. And while conservatives went out of their way to defend the free speech rights of hate mongering Islamophobes they aren’t the least bit hesitant to deny those rights to rap artists, the Dixie Chicks, Michael Moore, or even Picasso.

All things considered, I would prefer that boobs like Hannity were subject to censorship rather than those in the great paintings of history. But sadly, some boobs are more equal than others.

Right-Wing Media Lusts For Images That Offend Muslims

The murders of the staff of satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris are universally regarded as a heinous assault on humanity and free expression. Virtually every public commentary on the crime repudiates the killers and the violently extremist ideology they claim to represent. That includes the prominent Muslim advocacy organizations like the Council on American-Islamic Relations, and the major Islamic governments of Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Egypt, Iran, and more.

Yet even as this international chorus of condemnation resounds throughout the world, there are some petty voices in the media that seek to take political advantage of the situation. One of the tactics they employ is to attempt to cast shame on any media enterprise that fails to publish the offensive images that are reputed to have incited the attack on Charlie Hebdo. Many conservatives are calling anyone who doesn’t repost the images cowards and terrorist appeasers.

Why is the willingness to give more attention to a specific example of insulting imagery a test of dedication to a free press? Certainly the right to publish such material is one that must not be infringed in a free society, but that doesn’t make it a requirement for everyone to do so. It is possible to protest censorship, intimidation, and terrorism aimed at free speech without engaging in the same speech.

For instance, conservative extremists like Ted Cruz have every right to compare supporters of ObamaCare to Nazis, as he did on the Senate floor. But that doesn’t mean that in order to uphold his rights I have to stand up in public and make the same asinine comparison. It is quite enough for me to articulate my opinion that he is free to say whatever idiotic and inflammatory bullcrap he wants.

The problem is that there is an ugly underpinning to the calls by the right to post offensive images of Mohammed everywhere. And that is that they get off on it. They are only too happy to malign the prophet of a religion that they hate and regard as an evil enemy. Never mind that, by far, most Muslims are as appalled by the Paris murders as everyone else. The rightist, Christian martinets of virtue won’t be happy until every magazine, newspaper and television program has featured the images on their front pages and at the top of every broadcast.

It goes without saying (though I’ll say it anyway) that these same defenders of freedom would never insist on such widespread reproduction if the images maligned their sainted Ronald Reagan. Can you imagine Todd Starnes of Fox News calling out the cowards in the media for not prominently displaying an offensive picture of Reagan? Of course not. But that’s what he did to those not displaying the Mohammed cartoons.

A few years ago there was a movie about a fictionalized assassination of President Bush. It wasn’t even a political film, but rather a crime drama that delved into the complexities of an investigation into the killing of a president. Conservatives were apoplectic, complaining about the film and demanding that it be pulled from distribution. CNN and NPR refused to air advertisements for it.

The Dixie Chicks had the temerity to exercise their rights to free speech by saying merely that they were ashamed that Bush was from Texas. That rather tame bit of criticism led to record burnings, concert boycotts, and even death threats. No one was demanding that everybody play their music on the radio to demonstrate a commitment to free speech.

And then there was the notorious parody ad that appeared in Larry Flynt’s Hustler Magazine. It was a mock ad for Compari that played off of the liquor’s ad campaign at the time. However, Hustler’s version put televangelist Jerry Falwell in, shall we say, a compromising position. The response to that was both outrage from offended Christians and a lawsuit from Falwell. Eventually, Flynt prevailed in the Supreme Court, scoring a victory for free speech. But none of the conservatives today who are so anxious to see more public displays of Mohammed cartoons were clamoring for such a movement of solidarity in defense of Flynt. And it should not be forgotten that Flynt was also the victim of a terrorist attack when he was shot by a white supremacist, severing his spinal cord and leaving him confined to a wheelchair.

Jerry Falwell Compari

What is painfully clear is that conservatives would never condone reproducing images, or promoting other forms of speech, that they find offensive. But they are drooling ravenously to see more of the images that offend Muslims. And it’s all in the name of defending free expression. But beyond the obvious hypocrisy, it is apparent that they are more interested in satisfying their own repugnant desires to denigrate their perceived foes than in standing up for freedom.

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

[Addendum] As an example of some of the intrepid Fox News soldiers of press freedom, these statements were recently broadcast:

Ralph Peters: The correct response to this attack by all of us in journalism – we pretend to be so brave. If we had guts those cartoons would be reprinted on the cover pages of the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the L.A. Times, the Washington Post tomorrow. They won’t be. We’ll cry, but we’ll continue to self-censor.

K.T. McFarland: If there is any guts, if there is any courage, if there is any role that a free media has, it is to go out and call it what it is. If we are already self-censoring, if we are already cowering under the desk because we’re afraid of this, we’re afraid of that, then you know? Free speech is already lost.

Note that the official position of Fox News is to not display the images from Charlie Hebdo. They issued a statement saying that “The safety of its correspondents and questions of taste are at issue.” So apparently, free speech is already lost. But if they are still interested in publishing images to demonstrate their solidarity with oppressed journalists, maybe they will publish this image of a cardinal giving Jesus a blow job on the cross. It was featured on the cover of the German satire magazine, Titanic, who have encountered their own problems with censorship and could use the support.


ABSOLUTELY UN-AMERICAN: Fox News And Darrell Issa Squelch Democrats In IRS Hearing

In an extraordinary hearing Wednesday morning, Republicans put on a display of tyrannical suppression of speech that would make the Taliban green with envy.

Fox News

Darrell Issa, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee (and recidivist criminal), called to order a hearing on allegations that the IRS targeted conservative groups for enhanced scrutiny on their applications for tax-exempt status. The sole item on the agenda was testimony from former IRS official Lois Lerner. Lerner had previously notified the committee that she would be exercising her Fifth Amendment right to decline to answer questions. Ignoring that, Issa scheduled the hearing anyway as a sideshow that he hoped would embarrass his Democratic colleagues. His strategy blew up in his face.

After making a five minute opening statement, Issa proceeded to ask a series of questions, each time eliciting the same response from Lerner saying that, on advice of counsel, she was exercising her constitutional right to decline to answer. Since Issa already knew that Lerner would not be testifying, it is clear that his only purpose was to hear himself ask a bunch of questions that he framed to imply something incriminating. But it’s what happened next that demonstrates just how disreputable and dictatorial Issa is. [Full video of the hearing via C-SPAN]

Upon completing his opening statement and faux inquiry, the committee’s ranking Democrat, Elijah Cummings, began his opening statement, as is the practice of congressional proceedings. However, Issa immediately cut him off and ordered the hearing adjourned. Issa did not permit Cummings, or any other Democrat to utter a single word on the record. And after silencing Cummings, Issa stomped out of the hearing room.

Not surprisingly, this outraged Cummings who insisted on having his time to address the committee and the witness. Whereupon Issa instructed his staff to cut Cummings microphone off. Cummings valiantly persevered without a mic and made his objections known. He pointed out that Issa’s behavior was one-sided, wrong, and “absolutely un-American.”

Shameless Self-Promotion:
Get your copy of Fox Nation vs. Reality today at Amazon.

The coverage on Fox News of this shameful display of Republican hubris was pretty much what you might expect. Fox broadcast most of Issa’s opening statement and questions. Then, when Cummings began to speak, Fox curtailed their coverage after showing a brief portion of the dust-up between Issa and Cummings. Fox did not show any of the remarks Cummings made after Issa walked out of the room. Ironically, Fox host Martha MacCallum said that “We’re trying to give equal time to both of these gentlemen here.” Apparently equal time on Fox News is seven uninterrupted minutes of a Republican harangue and 42 seconds of a Democratic response.

Following the hearing, the same measure of biased coverage occurred when Issa and Cummings addressed the press. Fox again broadcast Issa’s press conference in its entirety, but cut away as Cummings approached the same podium from which Issa had just finished speaking. Fox aired none of Cummings remarks to the press. [Full video of the press avails via C-SPAN]

To matters even worse, Fox aired a segment about the hearing shortly afterward with a reporter from U.S. News and World Report. In addressing concerns by Lerner that she was getting death threats, Fox host Jon Scott made this unbelievably grotesque comment:

“I can see why if you’re getting death threats, maybe you wouldn’t want to open yourself up to more scrutiny. But at the same time, it would seem that answering some of the questions might cause some of these people who are so angry to ease up if she’s got legitimate answers for why the IRS did what it did.”

In other words, just comply with the demands of those making death threats and maybe they won’t kill you. See? Problem solved.

[really_simple_share button]

Share this article on Facebook:

After numerous hearings, testimony from more than three dozen IRS employees, and review of thousands of pages of documents, the Issa Inquisition has proven none of its allegations about corruption, partisanship, or White House involvement. What Issa has proven is that he is a brazenly dishonest hack who has repeatedly deceived the public and the media by issuing reports and releasing documents that he purposefully manipulated to create a falsely negative impression of malfeasance by Democrats. In the process he would systematically remove any data that contradicted his fictional version of events.

As for Fox News, they could not have been more obviously biased in their coverage of this affair. In all they broadcast about a quarter hour of Issa’s propaganda and less than a minute of the Democratic side of the debate. What’s more, they are already promoting appearances by Issa (and only Issa) on Fox News later today. And not once has Fox made note of the fact that Issa, and his GOP led committee, held an unprecedented hearing where only he was allowed to speak.

[Update 3/6/14] The Congressional Black Caucus has put forward a motion to condemn Darrell Issa for his tyrannical abuse of power and to remove him from the chairmanship of the committee. However, Speaker John Boehner has already expressed his continuing support for Issa whom Boehner believes acted appropriately.

Also, Media Matters has obtained and posted the emails that Issa referenced during his sham hearing. Consistent with Issa’s repeated acts of deception and partisan cherry-picking of information to make public, these emails actually prove that IRS director Lois Lerner was taking great pains to avoid any politicization of the agencies activities. As usual, when all the information is made available, it shows that Issa and Co. have lied through their teeth.

IRS Email

Rupert Murdoch Proposes Legislation To Outlaw Fox News

The chairman and CEO of News Corp, Rupert Murdoch, has been busily Tweeting his support for the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). His point invariably refers to nefarious characters who are trying to steal his intellectual property. And not one for understatement, Murdoch has labeled his opponents as terrorists.

SOPA was drafted in a manner that would not punish any actual content thieves, but would empower the government to shut down any web site that contained a link to pirated material, even if that link was posted by a visitor to the web site or was picked up by an automated process that scans Internet pages. Consequently the law could result in shutting down sites with user communities like Boing-Boing or search indexes like Google.

Today Murdoch posted a Tweet that suggested his support for even more government regulation that could have an effect on his own businesses:

Rupert Murdoch

There is something profoundly disturbing about Murdoch connecting the phone hacking scandal, for which his company was responsible, with his campaign against SOPA. The News Corp phone hacking victimized thousands of people. It has resulted in 15 arrests (so far). There have been numerous resignations from News Corp, as well as the British government and police department. It is perhaps the worst scandal an international media enterprise has ever perpetrated. To compare that with a power-grabbing effort to legalize Internet censorship is absurd and ignorant.

However, Murdoch’s Tweet could backfire on him. Think about it. Murdoch believes that passing legislation that permits shutting down Internet sites if they link to unauthorized copyrighted material is warranted and appropriate. And also he thinks there is a connection between that position and the phone hacking scandal. Therefore he must believe that it would be appropriate to shut down any enterprise that engaged in phone hacking. So a SOPA-type law addressing phone hacking would permit the government to shut down News Corp, Fox News, the Wall Street Journal, and other Murdoch entities.

As beneficial to the world’s media landscape as that would be, I cannot endorse it. Murdoch is wrong about SOPA, and he is wrong about over-reaching legislation that grants the government inordinate power over the Internet or the media. He is completely delusional if he thinks there is a connection between SOPA and phone hacking. And the only message he is conveying is that he still doesn’t understand the extremity of the criminal acts for which he and his company are guilty.

Fox News Anchor Chris Wallace Is “In Touch” With His Ass

Chris Wallace has been described by some of his peers as the face of journalistic integrity on the famously biased Fox News Channel. Even the Daily Show’s Jon Stewart once praised him saying that…

“I think that you are here, in some respects, to bring a credibility and an integrity to an organization that might not otherwise have it without your presence.”

That was an uncharacteristically muddled moment for Stewart. He was right, of course, that Fox News has no credibility, but he was way off in his assessment of Wallace who has repeatedly demonstrated that he is right at home on the network that deliberately falsifies the news.

On today’s Fox News Sunday, Wallace provided another example of his overt prejudice when he rudely cut off his colleague Juan Williams (video below). They were discussing presidential politics when Williams sought to make a point about the Republican’s affinity for the rich One Percenters:

WILLIAMS: The Republicans, in this time of Occupy Wall Street, are the protectors of the super rich.

WALLACE: [Laughing] I’m not sure if we should talk about Occupy Wall Street as a plus anymore…

WILLIAMS: Yeah, I think we should!

WALLACE: Really? With all the violence in the streets? You really think that most of the American people…

Wallace pointedly interrupted Williams to make a snarky remark about OWS, which he followed up with a distortion about the incidence of violence. Most of the violent episodes at OWS sites have been perpetrated by law enforcement against the protestors. Williams made a valiant attempt to counter Wallace and complete his thoughts, but Wallace was unrelenting.

WILLIAMS: You know what? You are getting distracted, and you’re getting distracted by people who are crazy…

WALLACE: I think I’m in touch with what most people are thinking, which is they’re getting fed up with it.

When did Wallace become the arbiter of “what most people are thinking?” He is the host of the lowest rated Sunday news program and a representative of a minority viewpoint with regard to the key issues expressed by the 99% movement. Every poll shows that broad majorities agree with the agenda of OWS, particularly on taxation of the rich, protection of Social Security and Medicare, and reining in the power of corrupt and abusive corporations and getting them out of politics.

Clearly Wallace is wildly out of touch with the American people and pitifully unaware of that fact. Consequently, he persists in trying to censor Williams who plainly tells Wallace that he is not in touch.

WILLIAMS: The fact that is when you ask most people is Wall Street out of control; is there inequality in terms of income in this country? People say ‘Yes.” And those are the basic tenets of Occupy Wall Street.

At this point Wallace cuts Williams off again even as Williams is pleading to be allowed to finish is point.

WALLACE: Juan, there’s a limit. We want to play fair here.

WILLIAMS: You’re not playing fair, but go right ahead.

Wallace was determined to prevent any positive characterization of OWS from being articulated on his program. It was obviously a frustrating moment for Williams who criticized Wallace on the air for his unfairness. That’s nearly unheard of in these news talk circles.

It is particularly interesting in that Williams regards himself as the victim of editorial repression at the hands of his previous employers at NPR. He wrote a book on the matter called “Muzzled.” One has to wonder if that’s how he felt this morning with Chris Wallace.

Apple Seeks Patent For Censorship Device

Do you want to prevent cell phones from recording video at concerts or birthday parties or public protests? There’s an app for that (almost). From Tim Karr at FreePress:

Late last week reports uncovered a plan by Apple, manufacturer of the iPhone, to patent technology that can detect when people are using their phone cameras and shut them down.

Really? They can do that?

Apple says this technology was intended to stop people from recording video at live concerts, which should worry the creative commons crowd. But a remote “kill switch” has far more sinister applications in the hands of repressive governments. And it further raises concerns about the power new media companies hold over our right to connect and communicate.

No kidding! Karr goes on to list examples of the kind of potential abuses that could be imposed. He notes how this technology would have prevented many of the now iconic episodes of citizen journalism from around the world: Tehran, Tahrir Square, Madison, Wisconsin, etc.

But the best way to illustrate the chilling ramifications of this abhorrent technology is to imagine how you would feel if you pointed your camera at something and, through the viewfinder, read a message that said “Sorry, you may not photograph this.” Imagine extending this technology to other devices in order to prohibit phone conversations, DVD players, and even Internet connections.

This opens the door to censorship on a scale never before contemplated. If corporations like Apple, and their co-conspirators, are ever able to control the means by which people can document the world around them, we are in BIG trouble – as citizens, as activists, and as artists.

FreePress has a petition calling on Steve Jobs to Stop The Kill Switch. Please add your name to it.

Fox Nation -The White Trash Pravda- Squelches Free Speech

Most fair observers already know that Fox Nation is a cesspool of right-wing propaganda and deliberately dishonest attacks on Democrats and progressives. Their blatantly biased approach to news would embarrass any conscientious journalist. The Fox Nation is the perfect communications model for other nations like China or North Korea. They are publishing what would best be described as the White Trash Pravda.

Fox Nation CensorshipIt appears that their comments section is no more fair and/or balanced than their so-called news. Despite the fact that their logo says “All Opinions Welcome,” the truth is that only opinions that don’t challenge their readers’ sensitive preconceptions are permitted. When attempting to post comments there I am now being rejected with a message that says “Your comment must be approved by a moderator before appearing here.” Then, of course, it never appears. And my comments are always civil and relevant to the topic.

For instance, in an item about Bill O’Reilly’s appearance on The View, the Fox Nationalists noted with shock that Whoopie Goldberg and Joy Behar walked off the stage in response to O’Reilly’s bigoted assertion that “Muslims killed us” on 9/11. Here is my comment on this:

“How come no one on this site seems to have noticed that O’Reilly backed down and apologized for his outrageous bigotry?

He was wrong and even HE knew it. Yet most of the comments here are supporting the bigotry for which he apologized.”

This doesn’t even seem to me like a particularly controversial remark. It simply states a fact that was being ignored by the Fox Nation community. Nevertheless, I made two additional attempts to express this opinion and all were rejected by the Fox Nationalist censors. Comments that were approved included references to the the show’s hosts as “bitches” and to all Muslims as terrorists.

That should tell us something about Fox and their audience. They are clearly afraid of engaging in an open dialog. They have determined that their arguments are too weak to undergo debate and that their readers are too stupid to be allowed exposure to free thought. But when all you have on your side is disinformation and lies, I suppose it’s necessary to shield your feeble flock from frightening concepts like the truth.

This principle is in play throughout the Fox News empire. And it is why Fox News is so harmful to the state of discourse and to democracy.

An Open Letter To Rachel Maddow Re: Jan Brewer

Rachel Maddow has been reporting on a wide-ranging scandal in the Arizona statehouse. The local CBS affiliate in Phoenix has been investigating Governor Jan Brewer and her staff for alleged improprieties surrounding the passage of SB1070, the anti-immigrant bill. The investigation has shown that members of Brewer’s advisors and staff are also lobbyists for private prison enterprises who stand to gain from the bill’s passage:

“As CBS station KPHO-TV has revealed, two of Governor Brewers advisers, Paul Senseman and Chuck Coughlin, have extensive ties to a private prison company called the Corrections Corporation of America, CCA. As a prison operator in Arizona, that company stands to benefit from every person detained under SB1070.”

Since the story broke the Brewer campaign has removed all campaign advertising from KPHO-TV. Maddow followed up and learned that the decision was Brewer’s and that the reasons were specifically due to the station’s investigation.

What this amounts to is a sort of blackmail on the part of the Governor. It is considered inappropriate and unethical for a public servant to seek to punish members of the press for doing their jobs. This is very different than declining to grant interviews to an adversarial reporter. This attacks the news enterprise financially by refusing to purchase advertising.

However, there is a bigger question here. While KPHO-TV is to be commended for their integrity in pursuing this story in the face of these repercussions, I have to wonder where the rest of the Arizona media is. I have not heard any reports that Brewer’s campaign has halted advertising on any other Arizona television station. Maybe that’s because I have also been able to find any stories on this subject by any other station. This is clearly a matter of importance to residents of the state. So why haven’t the other stations covered it? Are they now afraid of losing ad dollars? Are they deliberately suppressing the news to facilitate the Governor?

These would be great questions for Maddow to raise when following up further on this story. If the media in Arizona has been either biased in favor of Brewer, or intimidated by her or her staff, it needs to be revealed and reported to the citizens who have an important election coming up in a couple of months. Are you listening Rachel?