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?

Christian Broadcasting Network v. News Corpse

The Christian Broadcasting Network, home of The 700 Club, has notified News Corpse of a defamatory posting on this web site. I received an email from their legal team that included an attached letter (pdf) from Louis Isakoff, Vice President and General Counsel of Pat Robertson’s Regent University. Isakoff is representing Pat Robertson’s son (and CBN’s CEO), Gordon. The letter said in part:

“It has recently been brought to our attention that your internet site, newscorpse.com, has posted comments from Cheryl Spencer which are false, misleading, and defamatory. A copy of that post is included with this letter. The posting accused Mr. Robertson of adultery. Obviously this accusation is inaccurate.”

The letter goes on to demand that I “remove the posting immediately” to “avoid legal action” against me. The posting in question is over two years old and it did not address Robertson in any way. It was about the hiring of the late Tony Snow, former Fox News host and Bush press secretary, by CNN. The offending material was contained in a comment made by a reader. Cheryl Spencer, whom I do not know, made a comment, that I did not endorse, concerning Robertson’s marital fidelity. News Corpse, as an advocate for higher standards in the media, respects free speech and provides an open forum for opinion from all ideological perspectives.

CBN and Robertson are demonstrating a rare measure of sensitivity by bringing down the hammer on a small Internet publisher of opinion over an old article that didn’t even mention their client. Isakoff may be a Yale lawyer and the head of the legal division of a big university and media enterprise, but he is woefully uninformed on matters of new media publishing and free expression. Had he taken the time to research the matter, he would have quickly discovered that US Code Title 47, Chapter 5, Sub-Chapter II, Part I, ยง 230(c) provides immunity from any cause of action related to comments posted on blogs:

(1) Treatment of publisher or speaker
No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.

There is an abundance of case law affirming the protection for bloggers from lawsuits stemming from comments made by readers. The Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Citizen Media Law Project have extensive documentation of this. And that protection even applies when a blogger is notified of an allegedly defamatory comment and declines to remove it.

I can’t say whether this misunderstanding of the law is typical of Regent University lawyers, but there are certainly curious circumstances associated with that crowd. The Bush administration hired some 150 of them, including White House counsel Monica Goodling, who took the fifth before a congressional committee investigating the potentially illegal firing of U.S. Attorneys by the Bushies for partisan political reasons. And the presence of 150 lawyers in the Bush Department of Justice from a single Christian law school that was less than thirty years old is startling and unprecedented.

I have no intention of removing the comment posted on my site. I believe that the demand by CBN is without merit and is deliberately intended to harass me and to stifle free expression. This sort of bullying tactic has a chilling effect on individuals and organizations who seek only to exercise their Constitutional rights and provide forums for others to do so as well. It’s disappointing to see a religious institution, who’s rights are protected by the very same Constitutional amendment, exploit their power by threatening innocent authors and publishers.

Fox News: Obama Hates The iPad

Last weekend President Obama gave a commencement speech at the historically African-American Hampton College in Virginia. But, as has become routine, any utterances of the President are merely new opportunities for the rightist deception machine to misconstrue his remarks. This speech was no exception.

Much of the right-wing media eagerly ignored 95% of Obama’s speech to focus on a short passage that was partly humorous and entirely true. The President told the graduating students that…

>”…you’re coming of age in a 24/7 media environment that bombards us with all kinds of content and exposes us to all kinds of arguments, some of which don’t rank all that high on the truth meter. And with iPods and iPads; and Xboxes and PlayStations – none of which I know how to work – information becomes a distraction, a diversion, a form of entertainment, rather than a tool of empowerment, rather than the means of emancipation. So all of this is not only putting pressure on you; it’s putting new pressure on our country and on our democracy.”

“With so many voices clamoring for attention on blogs, and on cable, on talk radio, it can be difficult, at times, to sift through it all; to know what to believe; to figure out who’s telling the truth and who’s not. Let’s face it, even some of the craziest claims can quickly gain traction. I’ve had some experience in that regard.”

This common sense observation of modern media has stirred up the wingnut faction from one end to the other. Everyone from David Horowitz to the John Birch Society to BigGovernment to RedState, and on and on, set about picking apart this soundbite to accuse Obama of being anti-technology. And to no one’s surprise, Fox News was all over it.

The consensus amongst these psycho-Chicken Littles is that Obama was warning students that all technology is dangerous and evil, and that information is bad. They start by registering shock that the President would assert that not everything on the Internet is true (oh my). Glenn Beck went down this path, staring incredulously into the camera after playing Obama’s remark about the “truth meter.” Beck couldn’t believe what he was hearing. In his response he accused the President of advocating censorship and the banning of information.

Beck: Name the president in the history of America that has said, “information is a…it’s a diversion. It’s distracting. There can be too much information out there. Some information is…we’ve gotta stop it.”

Then Beck said that he has never before heard a president say these things. Well, he hasn’t seen this president say them either. Obama never even implied that any information should be stopped. He simply said that there’s a lot of it and information consumers need to be discriminating. The funny thing is that Beck says the same thing almost every day. Beck is constantly criticizing the media as a purveyor of lies, and warning his disciples to pay close attention so that they don’t get duped. But if Obama says it, he is somehow crossing over into suppression of free speech. Beck even compared it to book burning.

Beck might want to consult Dr. Keith Ablow, a psychiatrist and a frequent guest on his show. Ablow wrote a column on the Fox News web site that agreed with Obama:

“President Obama has apparently had a moment of epiphany and realized that new media and new technology can cleave young people from the truth and render them addicted to gadgets and entertainment. He said as much – attacking the iPod and iPad – at a speech to graduates of a college in Virginia last week.

The president is doubly correct. First of all, he is right (as I have written a number of times) that the Internet, Facebook and, yes, the new iPad and many other devices can interfere with people becoming wise and knowledgeable, rather than simply deluged with facts. They can also become estranged from real relationships and from themselves as they become obsessed with pretending to be stars on YouTube or worthy of ‘followers’ on Twitter or popular with thousands of ‘friends’ on Facebook.”

Of course, Obama didn’t actually “attack” any gadgets. He simply noted that they should be used sensibly. Then, because he is a Fox News contributor, Ablow went on to make some rather predictable criticisms of Obama that had no relevance to the topic before conceding that “None of this discounts Obama’s astute observations.”

It is remarkable how determined Obama’s critics are, that they can find so many straws on which to grasp. And now that they have declared Obama a foe of iPads and other technology, perhaps they will stop accusing him of using technology to thrust decent, patriotic citizens into slavery. That is another of the current falsehoods that the right is spewing with regard to Network Neutrality. And they have just launched a $1.4 million campaign to convince people that giant corporations should be able to decide what you can and cannot access online.

Feel free to visit FreePress.net and help them in their efforts to keep the Internet open, free and independent of the crushing influence of government and business. And don’t forget the iPad burning tonight that will start at 8:00pm in front of Rockefeller Center.

Fox News Is Afraid Of Confusing Their Viewers

An advertisement from VoteVets that promotes clean energy was rejected by Fox News, although it is currently running on CNN and MSNBC. The reason given for the rejection was that the ad is “too confusing.” What do you think?

I don’t think I’ve ever heard the confusion standard for declining ads before. There are standards for profanity, violence, libel, nudity, and even factual accuracy. But confusing? That’s a new one.

Idiot FoxI think that what Fox may be concerned about is that this ad is from an organization of American veterans. It advocates enhancing domestic security by reducing our dependence on foreign oil. It features unflattering pictures of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. These are three of the top bullet points right-wingers harp on in pursuit of their pseudo-patriotic Americism. The confusion that Fox is worried about is that their carefully trained viewers might wind up agreeing with these vets that our security is threatened by enriching our enemies in Iran and other unfriendly oil oligarchs. This ad could undo so much of Fox’s painstakingly hypnotic propagandizing.

So Fox’s solution is to censor the ad and protect their gullible audience from hearing any argument that might conflict with the Fox News world view. Fox undoubtedly regards this as their obligation to shield their viewers from the anxiety of having to think for themselves. Heaven knows that’s often confusing and so does Fox’s standards and practices department.

What Fox didn’t say is that Saudi oil tycoon, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, owns 7 percent of News Corp. He is the largest shareholder outside the Murdoch family. That wouldn’t have anything to do with Fox’s reluctance to air an ad proposing to reduce expenditures on Middle-East oil, would it? Or is this just confusing the matter?

Law And Order LBO: Limbaugh, Beck, O’Reilly

As the year comes to a close, many people view the remaining days as an opportunity to tie up loose ends, complete unfinished projects, and maybe produce another accomplishment or two to top off the year on a high note. For folks like Glenn Beck and Bill O’Reilly that means achieving something that surpasses their ordinary annual output of anger, hatred, and ignorance. This is the time of year to go for the gold, and you have to admire the tenacity of these professionals as they endeavor to reach new heights of stupidity and malice. Happy Holidays.

To this end, both Beck and O’Reilly serve up a heaping portion of boorish outrage directed at an episode of NBC’s Law and Order: SVU. The storyline concerned the murder of three immigrant children by a man obsessed with illegal aliens and possessed by the hateful rantings of a fictional TV talk show host, Gordon Garrison. In a pivotal scene, the lawyer for the defendant, played by John Larroquette, describes Garrison, Limbaugh, Beck, and O’Reilly as…

“…a cancer spreading ignorance and hate. I mean, they’ve convinced folks that immigrants are the problem, not corporations that fail to pay a living wage or a broken health care system.”

Perhaps that description, and the general plot, cut a little too close to the bone for Beck and O’Reilly. They may have seen more of their own dark underside in Garrison than they are comfortable acknowledging. This sends them both into a tizzy, infuriated by what they regard as a direct insult by the show’s producers and writers.

Billo-pediaBill O’Reilly starts off by telling his television audience that Dick Wolf, creator of NBC’s Law and Order, is “a despicable human being,” a “liar” and a “coward.” Seconds later he asserts that he doesn’t “demonize innocent human beings.” Apparently you lose your innocence if you disagree with O’Reilly or say anything unflattering about him. The entirety of his Talking Points rant was devoted to disparaging Wolf and glorifying himself. He even took partial responsibility for security fences on the US/Mexico border. But most of his tantrum made little sense, as usual.

In the course of his tirade, O’Reilly labeled NBC as “Propaganda Central in the USA.” (He must not watch much Fox News). But he undermines his own argument by immediately adding that it has the lowest ratings. How can it be the paragon of propaganda if no one is watching it?

For the record, NBC Entertainment is in fact the lowest rated broadcast entertainment network, but NBC News is the highest rated news broadcaster with four times as many viewers as O’Reilly. And that’s what makes all of this particularly bizarre. O’Reilly can’t seem to differentiate between reality and theater. He thinks that the dialogue of a character in a fictional TV program represents the opinion of the author. He thinks that if John Larroquette’s character says that O’Reilly is a cancer, then it is Wolf who believes that. And that’s as deep as O’Reilly’s comprehension can go.

The problem is that Larroquette is portraying a thoroughly unsavory character. He is not remotely sympathetic. He is, after all, defending a man who murdered innocent children. He is attempting to get his client off on an insanity defense and cast the blame elsewhere – to the talk show host. He is reviled by the show’s main characters and heroes. [SPOILER ALERT] He ultimately demonstrates his own extreme behavior by murdering his client. So the words to which O’Reilly objects were put into the mouth of the most unethical and unlikeable character. How on earth does O’Reilly interpret this as advocacy for those remarks? All of this easily discernible context notwithstanding, O’Reilly was mad as hell and he wasn’t going to take it anymore:

O’Reilly: I mean enough is enough with these network pinheads who shove propaganda down our throats under the guise of entertainment.

Is he referring to Dick Wolf or Roger Ailes? Because it seems to me that it is Fox that is using entertainment to disseminate propaganda. It is Fox that turned journalism on its head by casting loudmouth demagogues and witless beauty pageant rejects as news anchors. It is Fox that decorated their broadcasts with flamboyant graphics, alarmist “alerts,” and noisy soundtracks and gongs to announce even the most trivial events. And it is Fox that still pretends to be a news enterprise, while Law and Order has never presented itself as anything but drama.

Can O’Reilly tell the difference? Maybe his comment above is referring to Glenn Beck, who describes his own program as the “Fusion of Entertainment and Enlightenment.” Wouldn’t that make Beck a “pinhead” shoving “propaganda down our throats under the guise of entertainment?” For his part, Beck also misread the Law and Order segment for all the same reasons O’Reilly did. But Beck took a different tack. Rather than hysterically attacking Wolf and company, Beck launches into a self-serving defense to absolve himself of responsibility for the sort of violence portrayed in the program. He describes himself as “just a dad” and defiantly asks: “Where is the evidence for inciting any violence?”

Beck has the sort of convenient memory that allows one to be a sociopath without any messy recollection of his vile deeds. He forgets that he once fantasized about choking Michael Moore to death with his bare hands:

“I’m thinking about killing Michael Moore, and I’m wondering if I could kill him myself, or if I would need to hire somebody to do it. No, I think I could. I think he could be looking me in the eye, you know, and I could just be choking the life out…”

He forgets his frequent radio bit wherein he mulls over who he would like to beat to death with a shovel:

“I’ve been sitting here for the last few minutes trying to come up with a list of people I want to kill with a shovel. […] How many people have I said let’s kill with a shovel, huh? How many people have I said let’s line ‘em up and shoot ‘em in the head? I think quite a few.”

I don’t know many dads who articulate these revolting ideas. Beck also forgets the numerous calls for his legion of demented disciples to “fight back” against an enemy that is deliberately trying to attack your family, your values, your faith, and even to destroy your country. Marxists and fascists are taking over Washington. They are indoctrinating your children. They are on your doorstep. Beck insists that this is not a time for compromise or debate. He says that “You don’t compromise on your destruction.” It is an Apocalyptic Gospel that leaves little option for true patriots. They either fight or they, and everything they love, dies. It doesn’t matter if Beck occasionally recites legal disclaimers to refrain from violence. Once you’ve convinced people that the very essence of their existence is threatened, there are going to be those who will conclude that violence is acceptable – even inevitable – as self-defense.

Rush Limbaugh - Riot in DenverBeck speaks in a Da Vinci coded language about things that only he can see to a congregation that is especially vulnerable to a message that only they can hear. Rush Limbaugh is even more direct. In advance of the Democratic National Convention in Denver last year, Limbaugh told his listeners to Screw the world! Riot in Denver!

“I mean, if people say what’s your exit strategery, the dream end of this is that this keeps up to the convention and that we have a replay of Chicago 1968, with burning cars, protests, fires, literal riots, and all of that. That’s the objective here.”

He couldn’t be much clearer than that. Limbaugh has yet to comment on the Law and Order episode that mentioned him and O’Reilly and Beck, but his record of offensive and hostile rhetoric like that above is well documented.

If you take the combined blather of these shoutcasters, it isn’t hard to foresee an outcome not unlike that of the one played out on Law and Order. And perhaps much worse. Yet they will continue to deny any culpability for their irresponsible fear mongering. And they will fire back at any criticism that holds them accountable. Even if it doesn’t make any logical sense, as this incident with Law and Order demonstrates. And even if it contradicts their professed appreciation for the First Amendment, as they seek to silence the creative output of a television dramatist. (Note: O’Reilly’s guest for the discussion on this subject was Laura Ingraham, author of “Shut Up and Sing,” a repulsive assault on free expression that reduces the role of artists to trivialities, ignoring their contributions to society and their potential for insight and inspiration).

But more than anything else, this affair reveals how intellectually vacant these losers are. They are incapable of grasping the meaning of a popular TV cop drama – which is not exactly the pinnacle of human intelligence. They are just angry that someone said something about them that they vaguely regard as adverse. And that’s enough to launch a full scale media war. Because, in the end, all they really want is an issue to blow out of proportion; a hyperbolic fireball of frenzy; a meaningless and dishonest controversy. An excuse to raise their voices, pull out their hair, and drive their viewers into a panic.

Like I said above…Happy Holidays.

p.s. Ice-T has a few words for O’Reilly.

Update: Just one day after all the whining about how liberal Law and Order is, and how it is spewing leftie propaganda, the program aired an episode that told a very different story. This one featured an ACORN-like community organizer whose murdered body was found with the word “FED” scrawled across his chest. However, the conclusion revealed that it was not some right-wing, anti-government, Beckoid who was responsible, but the head of the community organizing group who was attempting to cover up an affair. So having indicted the liberals in this episode, will Beck and O’Reilly and the vast, conservative, Hollywood-bashing, over-reactionaries retract their allegations of bias against producer, Dick Wolf? Don’t bother staying tuned.