There have been innumerable examples of Fox News airing false reports in an effort to misinform their viewers. A recent example just within the past week alleged that President Obama recruited British spies to conduct surveillance on Donald Trump’s campaign. Fox’s senior judicial analyst, Andrew Napolitian, made the claim without any supporting evidence. The network’s news division later refuted the report and put Napolitano on an indefinite leave. But that was after the story had been disseminated worldwide, creating an international incident. Even Trump’s press secretary, Sean Spicer (Fibby Spice) cited the fake news during a White House press briefing.
However, another way of shaping an ignorant electorate is to refrain from covering important events. The choice of what not to cover is just as significant as what to cover. And on Tuesday Fox News demonstrated their determination to deny their audience information that is unarguably newsworthy.
The House Intelligence Committee’s hearings on Russia’s efforts to interfere with the 2016 presidential election were broadcast live by most news networks. Testimony by FBI Director James Comey revealed for the first time that the FBI was investigating Trump and his associates. The proceedings were unusually compelling for a congressional hearing. And the proof of that came when Fox News decided to cease coverage of the hearings to host a panel of right-wing talking heads instead.
Fox was the only network that interrupted the live broadcast. And by doing so they deprived their viewers of first hand knowledge of what was happening at the hearings. What’s worse is that they replaced the hearings with conservative pundits providing a blatantly biased analysis. It was a deliberate programming strategy designed to advance the messaging of an embattled White House.
Unfortunately for Fox News, it may not have worked this time. Ratings for the cable news networks show that when Fox cut away from the hearings they lost about 29 percent of their audience. That’s a massive shift by viewers who were obviously disappointed by Fox’s programming decision. What’s more, viewers were plainly following the hearings to other channels. The ratings for CNN and MSNBC both spiked after Fox cut away.
This tells us that the American people are acutely interested in this matter. They want to know more about the potentially treasonous activities of their president. By suppressing that information Fox succeeded only in alienating their audience and further eroding their credibility. Plus, they probably don’t want to send their viewers off to competing networks.
The Trump administration has brought newfound prosperity to liberal programming. The Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC has toppled Fox from its perch atop the ratings hill. She has won her time period for the past two weeks straight. Saturday Night Live, despite Trump’s insulting tweets (or because of them) has seen its best ratings in years. Stephen Colbert’s Late Show is now leading his late night talk show competition.
All of this suggests that Americans are hungry for honest reporting. They are tired of Fox’s propaganda and the phony “balance” sought by CNN and other conventional news outlets. They want the press to be skeptical when appropriate and aggressive when necessary. They know there’s something amiss in the Trump White House and they don’t want it papered over. And they are not going to sit still when a network like Fox decides that they don’t need to know what’s really going on. Fox News needs to adjust a new viewer mantra: We have remotes, and we’re prepared to use them.
For several weeks now Rachel Maddow’s MSNBC program has been picking up steam. Last Monday she rose into the ratings top ten in her time period. And that momentum continued for the rest of the week. As a result, she just snagged a victory over every primetime program for the week of March 6-10.
“Rachel Maddow, MSNBC’s star player, is enjoying one hell of a ratings run right now.
“The cable news network’s 9 o’clock host outrated every other primetime show during the week of March 6. Not only did that make her show No. 1 among adults 25-54 in her time slot with an average 624,000 viewers, she even beat cable news’ perennial victor — Fox News Channel’s Bill O’Reilly.”
A showing this strong is evidence of a titanic shift in the television audience. Bill O’Reilly has been the cable news king of the hill fairly consistently for years. He hasn’t seen any real competition since Keith Olbermann. In her time period, Maddow’s weekly average crushed her direct competition, Fox’s newest primetime host Tucker Carlson. And her victory included both total audience and the key advertising demographic of viewers 25-54. The smug superiority of Carlson was quickly embraced by Fox’s viewers. However, his bewildered and annoyed shtick seems to be wearing thin.
Maddow’s rise has occurred simultaneously with Donald Trump’s collapse. Trump’s approval ratings started in the cellar with the lowest numbers ever recorded for a new president. And they have just gone down from there. This week alone he sunk five points to a pitiful 39 percent.
Consequently, Fox News is pulling out all the stops to prop up their propaganda. Sean Hannity blasted Maddow on Monday for daring to report on Trump’s ties to Vladimir Putin and Russia. Ordinarily Hannity wouldn’t bother to speak her name aloud. But now he is featuring her in his rants. First he complained that she didn’t have “a shred of evidence” tying Trump to Putin. That’s true. She doesn’t have a shred, she has truck load. Then Hannity asked the most blitheringly ironic question ever: “Do these people have any intellectual honesty?” No comment on that is necessary.
As for Carlson, he just announced that he will be interviewing Trump on Wednesday. Given Trump’s toxic presence, that might not be a great programming move. Fox’s glassy-eyed loyalists will love it, but the broader TV audience will likely stay away. What could they possibly learn from television’s most sycophantic Trump fluffer spending an hour with his idol?
That’s a problem that Fox News is going to have to contend with for the foreseeable future. Their star attraction is viewed by most Americans as an ignorant bigot who is intent on taking away their healthcare. During the campaign Trump was still a novelty and many people watched just to see if he would burst a blood vessel in his neck or slap an immigrant child. But the public knows Trump now and they’ve lost interest in his juvenile antics. And the more he is paraded out on Fox News, the better it will be for Maddow and MSNBC. Maybe CNN should start paying attention.
There have been numerous polls that show Donald Trump sinking to historic lows in approval. He currently resides at a pitiful 43 percent. That puts him at the bottom of the past nine presidents (going back more than sixty years) at this point in their terms. And that makes him the most unpopular new president in as long as this poll has been done.
Likewise, majorities of the public are generally not in favor of his policies. He is trailing on the issues he has pushed the hardest for. Voters oppose him on ObamaCare, the border wall, and immigration. The media that he hates so fiercely is held in higher esteem than he is. And half of the electorate is already in favor of impeaching him. Can it get any worse than this?
Well, another measure of popularity is the ratings of television programs that feature news about politics. On that scale Trump is also in trouble. While Fox News remains the top rated cable news network, it is growing at a slower rate than its competitors. And one program particularly stands out. The Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC is reaching new heights since election day. Maddow was recently featured in an interview with The Wrap who noted that:
“MSNBC’s ‘The Rachel Maddow Show’ has been on a roll, posting her best ratings month ever in February and nearly doubling her viewership. Her secret is simple. Maddow said she covers President Donald Trump’s White House in a very old-fashioned Hollywood way.
“‘We developed sort of an informal, internal mantra… which is that we basically cover them as if they are a silent movie,’ Maddow told TheWrap. ‘I stopped covering the Twitter feed and we started covering only what they do rather than what they say.’
“It’s working. In February, Maddow racked up MSNBC’s largest total viewer audience ever in the 9 p.m. ET timeslot and the best performance among the key news demo of adults age 25-54 since November 2012. After the February victory, Maddow has now beaten CNN’s regularly scheduled programming for 45 straight months.”
This sort of performance spike does not happen in a vacuum. People are gravitating to news that is informative and entertaining. There is clearly an audience that isn’t interested in Fox’s Pravda-like impression of state-run propaganda. Nor are they drawn to the phony “balance” that CNN aims for.
The television audience is reflecting the electorate by rewarding programming that takes on the flagrant lies of a delusional administration. Throughout the television schedule there is evidence of a Trump effect. Stephen Colbert has jumped into the late-night top spot due to his renewed focus on Trump. Saturday Night Live is hitting heights they haven’t seen in years. Sure, there may be some confirmation bias in this, but even that is instructive. There is obviously a significant number of people looking for confirmation of reality. And that’s something they aren’t getting from Trump & Company.
The infamous ego of Donald Trump is going to take a severe blow when he gets wind of this. His highly anticipated maiden address to Congress may have enchanted much of the media, but the ratings reveal far less adoration than he will be comfortable with. Even with Brian Kilmeade of Fox News telling him that “you’ll have the biggest audience for a State of the Union-like address this year, bigger than any other year,” reality has a way of intervening.
The Nielsen ratings for Trump’s speech came in at about 48 million. That’s a respectable number for anyone else, but Trump is likely to pound a hole in the Oval Office wall when he finds out. The reason for his outrage will be that he failed to snag the top spot for such events. To make matters worse, he lost to both Barack Obama and Bill Clinton. According to The Hollywood Reporter, “Compared to Obama’s first address in 2009, Trump’s pull is down by 8 percent.” Rankings for first-time speeches to Congress are – Clinton 1993: 66.9 million. Obama 2009: 52.4 million. Trump 2017: 48.0 million.
Knowing Trump, one of two reactions can be expected. Either he will lash out at Nielsen and the “fake” ratings establishment that is determined to destroy his presidency. Or he will simply insist that he had higher ratings and everyone tells him so. Then he’ll send Sean Spicer out to confirm it and yell at the press.
Trump flew into a rage after the election when results that showed Hillary Clinton received nearly three million more votes. Defying reality again, Trump insisted that he would have had more popular votes were it not for millions of illegal voters. Then when he delivered his inauguration speech he invented millions of attendees that were invisible to the cameras.
It goes without saying that Trump will be furious when he learns of his latest failure. His handlers may try to keep him from finding out, but someone on Twitter will probably spill the beans. Then just wait for all hell to break loose. Trump is failing in the field he knows best – TV. He previously mocked Arnold Schwarzenegger for not matching his ratings on the new Celebrity Apprentice. Let’s see if Arnold has anything to say about this.
Now that both of the presidential nominating conventions are over, we can take a look at how the American people felt about the proceedings with respect to their television viewing. The Nielsen ratings are in and they tell a story that may have an impact on the election and its results in November.
From the broadest perspective the Democrats scored a significant victory (which may explain why Donald Trump is now pretending that he had nothing to do with his own convention). The cumulative total viewers for all four nights, across ten broadcast and cable networks, during the Democratic National Convention (DNC) was 116.7 million. For the Republican National Convention (RNC) it was 100.7 million. The Democrats outright won the first three nights by at least five million viewers. On the fourth night Trump’s acceptance speech outdrew Hillary Clinton’s by a small margin of 1.6 million.
The fourth night of the DNC event requires some additional analysis. It is fair to say that the night when a candidate is making their acceptance speech has particular significance. They are the star attraction at these shows and the impressions they make can have a substantial impact. Consequently, it should raise one’s curiosity as to why the Democrats won every night except the one when Hillary Clinton was making her big speech.
The answer is not especially surprising. When the numbers are broken down by network, you’ll find that Trump drew a massive 9.4 million viewers for his speech on Fox News alone. The following week, by contrast, Clinton was watched by only three million viewers on Fox. There was no similar disparity on any other network.
Clearly the people who watch Fox News were inclined to tune in to see their favorite candidate, Donald Trump. And when it came time for Hillary Clinton to speak, Fox viewers simply tuned her out, preferring to remain steeped in their own partisan stupidity. Absent this warped variable, the average viewership of the convention’s fourth night again shows a healthy lead for the Democrats.
More importantly, it shows a decidedly unhealthy tendency for Republicans to deliberately shelter themselves from the real world and wallow in a pool of purposeful ignorance. This isn’t a new development. A couple of years ago Gallup conducted a study that identified the political leanings of the viewers of each network. It showed that fully 94% of respondents identified as Republican or leaning Republican said that Fox News is their main source for news. Conservatives chimed in at 79%. And a whopping 97% of those who do not approve of President Obama pledged their allegiance to Fox. None of the respondents on the left came within 30 points of that level of extreme partisanship.
What this tells us is that Fox News is virtually irrelevant to the political debate in America. They cater to a uniform community of right-wing zealots whose opinions are locked in place. So it makes no difference that Fox viewers didn’t watch Clinton’s speech because they wouldn’t vote for her anyway. In fact, they may have just been following orders from their master. Yesterday Donald Trump sent an email to supporters telling them not to watch Clinton on Thursday:
“Unless you want to be lied to, belittled, and attacked for your beliefs, don’t watch Hillary’s DNC speech tonight.”
That’s the sort of advice that you give to juveniles you can’t trust to make their own decisions. It’s advice that cripples ones ability to understand the world around them and makes them incapable of knowing how to respond to information that isn’t pre-chewed for them by autocratic demagogues. In other words, it’s advice that Fox News viewers would rush blindly to follow. And what makes this even more ludicrous is that Trump himself declined his own advice. After earlier saying that he was not going to watch Clinton’s speech, he confessed to an audience at a rally today that “I shouldn’t be telling you this, but I watched it.”
Of course he did. How else would he know what lame insults to tweet in response? Trump’s ego would never permit him to avoid anything that someone might say about him, particularly if it’s critical. As an insecure bully he needs to have constant control of his surroundings so he can strike back when he feels he’s been maligned. These ratings results prove that he’s one of the losers he’s constantly accusing his opponents of being. But don’t expect him to acknowledge it. He’s probably preparing some tweets right now to smear the lefty radicals at Nielsen who he surely believes are deliberately sabotaging his campaign.
THE NUMBERS ARE IN: The Republican debate on Thursday went off without a hitch despite the loss of its biggest tabloid star, Donald “The Situation” Trump. Despite Trump’s trash talking the match-up between the debate and his phony veterans charade, he not only failed to outperform the debate, he didn’t even draw a quarter of the viewers that watched the debate.
The audience for the debate was about 12.5 million. So it outdrew the last GOP debate which pulled in 11 million on the Fox Business Channel. The audience for the GOP debates has been understandably declining with each event. They began with a bang last August registering 24 million, then dropped to 22, 14, 13, spiked to 18 on CNN, then settled back to 11 million. So it is to be expected that the audience would continue to shrink, especially without The Donald. The novelty wears off as the election season progresses. However, surprisingly, it went up a bit.
That by itself would be enough evidence that Trump’s tantrum was a failure. But it gets worse. The audience for his cynical and insulting exploitation of veterans as political props was markedly lower. CNN drew only 1.7 million viewers, and MSNBC had just over one million. So the debate’s audience was four times greater than the combined audience on the other news networks. What’s more, the other networks only aired a small portion of Trump’s event (about fifteen minutes at the beginning and sporadic cut-ins later), so his propaganda didn’t get nearly the coverage that he hoped.
Undoubtedly, Trump will declare victory because reality isn’t relevant in his world, or that of his glassy-eyed disciples. But the truth is that he failed to make an impact by ditching the GOP affair. He proved that the networks don’t need to pander to him and that they won’t be hurt if he gets huffy and bails. That’s probably something that he wishes he didn’t make known. And the image of him as whining wimp who is afraid to face a few journalists along with his party peers will endure.
Now that is it’s all over, it turns out that the hype that engulfed Donald Trump’s appearance on Saturday Night Live was more entertaining than the actual show. There are barely any reviews that have anything positive to say about either Trump’s performance, or that of the regular cast and writers.
The big problem with Trump hosting the show, and the reason the protests were so pronounced, was never about the debate between opposing political ideologies. It was about the noxious validation of an unrepentant hate monger. Would SNL proffer an invitation to a KKK leader if they thought it would produce big ratings? One can only hope not. Likewise, the role of political satire is not to suck up to the rich and powerful, but to slather them in mockery. On that level SNL failed miserably.
Even with regard to ratings, SNL failed to achieve much of a victory. The program did not break any records. It did exceed their other programs over the past three years (not a long time frame for a show that’s been on the air for more than forty years), but fell below such non-talents as Sarah Palin and Charles Barkley. And the reviews for Trump were decidedly unflattering to say the least. Here’s a short sampling of the damage:
New York Times: “S.N.L.” stuck with obvious, anemic political riffs and apolitical sketches that were cringeworthy all around.
Los Angeles Times: “SNL” seemed so bent on appearing nonpartisan that it over-compensated and forgot its actual mandate: Be funny.
The Wrap: In its 41st season, the show would rather play along with the wealthy and powerful than satirize them.
Yahoo TV: Host Donald Trump kicked off this week’s Saturday Night Live with an opening monologue that demonstrated all the reasons it wasn’t a good idea for him to host SNL. […] The only entity that came off worse than Donald Trump was SNL.
Variety: Most of the sketches involving Trump were weak, timid or predictable.
Time: His episode of SNL was among the most anodyne in the show’s recent history.
Washington Post: Trump’s sorry night on ‘SNL’: An overhyped bummer for us all.
Townhall: Trump on SNL Was Dull, Unfunny.
Greg Gutfeld, Fox News: They deliberately wrote nothing, as a protest. It’s like a restaurant cook spitting on someone’s food.
The last two in this list were specifically included to show that it isn’t just the “liberal” media ganging up The Donald. Gutfeld’s paranoid observation that there was a conspiracy by the writers to tank Trump is especially ludicrous. Why would they do so knowing that it would make them look just as atrocious as their star? They have their own careers to consider.
The one moment in the show that was universally applauded was Larry David’s heckling of Trump’s opening monologue wherein he called Trump a racist. David was cashing in on the actual offer by Latino activist group Deport Racism to pay $5,000 to anyone in the SNL audience who called Trump a racist on the air. The group says that it will honor the offer and pay the prize to David (not that he needs it). SNL’s attempt at a preemptive strike to dilute the impact of an audience member disrupting the show backfired because David’s disruption got far more people talking about Trump’s bigotry than an unknown person in the audience would have.
Trump, on the other hand, was stiff and painfully humor-challenged. What’s worse, he managed to make himself appear even less presidential than he has on the campaign trail this year (not an unimpressive feat). It probably won’t hurt him among his supporters because, by definition, their judgment is pitifully defective.
But the real losers in all of this are NBC, who reversed their pledge to cut ties with Trump due to his offensive remarks, and SNL, who are demonstrating a crushing weakness in what should be their core comedic competence. It’s a sad decline for the program that seems to be accelerating downward. And following this disgraceful capitulation to a bully bigot, you have to wonder what’s next for SNL.
A new study by the Pew Research Center reveals some striking generational disparities between America’s news consumers. The study’s results cast the light of perspective on the marketing hype of Fox News, who brag incessantly about being the highest rated cable news network.
The ratings boast has always been a specious act of puffery by Fox News considering that their numbers are achieved by herding all of the wingnut demographic into a single corral, while the remaining TV viewing universe is dispersed to the rest of the available channels. What’s more, Fox’s ratings represent a tiny portion (about 1%) of the nation’s population on their best showing.
What we learn from the Pew study is that Fox’s appeal among young viewers sets a low water mark for the network. Millennial respondents in the study say that they trust Fox News less than any other news source. A plurality of 43% distrust Fox News. That’s significantly more than the next lowest source, Rush Limbaugh, who is also distrusted by far more millennials (32%) than trust him (4%). The 43% of Millennials who distrust Fox is nearly three times the number who distrust MSNBC (15%).
Looking at the numbers from the other direction, the percentage who trust Fox (35%) is less than CNN (60%), MSNBC (37%), and 4 to 12 points less than the three broadcast news networks. Even sources like the Daily Show and Al Jazeera, whose sample sizes are smaller, are still rated with more viewers that trust them than distrust them, compared to Fox’s net distrust results.
The numbers aren’t much better in other demographic groupings. Gen-Xers trust Fox News less than every other source except for Limbaugh. And the same thing is true for the Baby Boomers who are Fox’s best demo. With a median age of 68.8 years, Fox’s audience is over six years older than either CNN or MSNBC. It’s even worse for their top rated program (Bill O’Reilly) who’s average viewer is over 72 years old.
In addition to the poor showing by Fox News, the rest of the study’s bottom dwellers are primarily right-wing radio talkers, Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Glenn Beck.
From a business perspective, Fox News has to be deeply concerned about the next generation of viewers. If their opinions remain constant they are not going to be tuning in to Fox. However, putting this in a political context is more complex. While Millennials clearly have an aversion to Fox’s conservative programming, they are also less likely to participate in the electoral process. On the other hand, about half of the older Baby Boomers are fond of Fox, and they are more reliable voters. So Republicans may have some short-term advantage from that, but looking forward to the next generation of seniors is going to be a problem for Fox and the Republican Party.
Of Course , all of that may change if Millennials become more active politically due to factors like the first African-American president, or the first woman, or Latino, or candidates who support marriage equality and marijuana legalization. And Fox has been busy alienating all of the fastest growing voter blocs while simultaneously insulting their base of seniors with derogatory swipes at Hillary Clinton’s age. Even before this Pew study, polls have shown Fox News as both the most and least trusted news network.
The technological platforms for news are also drawing more young people. So participation by those connected to Facebook and Twitter will likely increase. In short, the future is a mystery. What isn’t mysterious is that Fox News is rapidly becoming a universally hated network. Its biases and brazenly dishonest reporting are being rejected in ever greater numbers. It is a fading entity whose prospects are dwindling with time. And that’s good news for democracy and America and the world.
The past couple of weeks has seen an ever-expanding exposition of brazenly dishonest reporting from Fox News star Bill O’Reilly. There are now at least five documented examples of his embellishing his own exploits in war zones and other “dangerous” assignments. His accounts have been refuted by both hard evidence and the testimony of his colleagues.
So how does O’Reilly respond to these charges that would severely damage his credibility if he had any? Well, after issuing some unsupported but emphatic denials, and threatening journalists covering the story, O’Reilly is now widening the battlefield and lashing out at his favorite target, the “liberal” media (video below).
On last night’s Factor O’Reilly presented a segment on “The Collapse of Liberal Media.” Of course, O’Reilly has done this before and has even declared the liberal media dead. So the fact that it is well enough to be collapsing is kind of an improvement in its condition.
O’Reilly began his rant by exalting himself (surprise) and his success in the ratings as compared to MSNBC. It’s true that Fox News has been the dominant player in cable ratings, but that is not a particularly groundbreaking revelation because it has been true for several years. So why is O’Reilly suddenly making a headline out of this worn out self-promotion? Could it have anything to do with his fury over being exposed as a pathological liar and his compulsion to seek revenge against his accusers?
The guest for the segment was O’Reilly pal and disgraced former CBS reporter, Bernie Goldberg. The first point Goldberg made was that in five of the last six presidential elections the more liberal candidate won the popular vote. Therefore, he surmised, that should have been helpful to liberal media. How he came to that conclusion is a mystery as there is no correlation between ratings and the political party of the White House. In fact, MSNBC’s best ratings were achieved during the Bush administration.
Goldberg went on to offer his list of the three reasons that MSNBC was is such dire straits. And they actually weren’t bad. Particularly the first reason which he said was the most important:
“Liberal news media violate the cardinal rule of all media. They’re not entertaining.”
That’s true. Fox News has redefined television journalism by fundamentally transforming it from an information medium to an entertainment medium. They dress up their pseudo-news segments in the same melodramatic packaging that entertainment outlets use: conflict, scandal, mystery, and hyper-charged emotions including hero worship and fear. Fox employs flashy graphics and attention-grabbing audio whooshes and gongs to decorate their reports that are presented as “ALERTS” regardless of the news value. And always there is sex. Fox’s roster of hosts has more former beauty pageant contestants than journalists. And they aren’t shy about putting their “talent” in revealing clothes and camera angles. In fact, Fox CEO Roger Ailes demands it. As for news, Fox’s concentration on tabloid thrill-fiction like Benghazi and Obama’s birth certificate is the news equivalent of porn.
This presents a dilemma to serious news enterprises that seek to carry out a mission to inform the public, but also need the public to watch. Fox News has gone out farthest on this limb and virtually abandoned the practice of ethical journalism. MSNBC and other networks need to find the proper balance.
Goldberg’s second reason was also surprisingly rational. He said that…
“People tune in to opinion journalism not so much to get information, but to get their own opinions validated by people on the air.”
Indeed. However, that isn’t something that explains MSNBC’s ratings or distinguishes them from Fox. There is no network that is more guilty of pandering to a partisan ideology than Fox News. So Goldgerg’s second reason only manages to accurately describe why Fox is so successful in corralling a loyal, uncritical audience.
On the other hand, his insight into MSNBC is way off base. He asserts that MSNBC fails because their politics are so far-left that they don’t validate the liberals in their target audience. Apparently Goldberg has never watched MSNBC. The notion that it is radically leftist could only be held by someone who is either unfamiliar with the network or utterly confused about liberal politics. Plus, he ignores the three hour morning block anchored by Joe Scarborough, a conservative Republican and former congressman.
The third reason Goldberg gave for MSNBC’s poor ratings is that “there are plenty of other places to get left-of-center information.” He’s right. And that is a key factor in Fox’s success. They have cornered the market for right-wing TV news. That means that viewers who want conservative slanted reporting will congregate at Fox, while all other viewers are dispersed across the dial, thus diluting the standings of any single network. So it isn’t that there are more conservatives watching TV, it’s just that they all watch one channel. Additionally, Goldberg conceded that Fox was designed from the start to be the right’s mouthpiece saying that…
“If you want to get conservative information on television, you do what Roger Ailes did. He found the niche, as he put it. Fifty percent of America.”
O’Reilly didn’t bother to object to Goldberg’s characterization of his boss or his network. Fox hardly ever tries to defend their fairness or balance any more. They now proudly regard their biases as a marketing feature to the wingnut demographic. But when the discussion turned to alternative sources for news, both O’Reilly and Goldberg slipped off the rails. They asserted that there were few places to find conservative views online. It makes you wonder which Internet they are using if they aren’t familiar with the Drudge Report, Glenn Beck’s TheBlaze, Breitbart News, the Daily Caller, National Review, WorldNetDaily, Townhall, Newsmax, and of course, their own fib factory Fox Nation.
On the flip side O’Reilly gave his impression of the left’s Internet presence in a rant that was loaded with his unique brand of animus and hostility. He was veritably frothing as he said that…
“There are some conservative websites, but the left-wing dominates the Internet. There are all these sleazy, slimy, far-left throwing it out. And that’s hurt the television industry.”
So O’Reilly and Goldberg don’t see any significant right-wing Internet sites, but the many left-wing sites they see are all slimy. How they are hurting television isn’t explained. In all likelihood, O’Reilly is covertly referencing his own problems with Internet sites like Mother Jones that have exposed his rank dishonesty. By telling the truth about him, O’Reilly believes that his Internet critics are destroying television. And, according to O’Reilly & Company, all of this is happening in an environment wherein it is the so-called liberal media that is collapsing. But how is a collapsing liberal media destroying the all-powerful conservative media?
O’Reilly really needs to make up his mind. Are liberals a dangerous cabal that are having a profound and negative effect on O’Reilly’s TV kingdom, or are they a band of weaklings who are struggling to keep from dissolving into the ether? Or is it a waste of time trying to figure out the hypocrisies that infect O’Reilly’s mind since the only thing that’s ever on it is what benefits him?
On MediaBuzz, the Fox News program dedicated to reviewing the press, anchor Howard Kurtz took another opportunity to belittle President Obama and the YouTube personalities that interviewed him following the State of the Union Address. This is apparently a sore spot for conservative media dinosaurs like Kurtz who think that it is “beneath the dignity of the office to be hanging out with some of these YouTubers.” As noted in a previous article, the jealously and hypocrisy of the entrenched conventional media was exposed by their arrogant dismissal of a forward-thinking politician who recognizes the value in relating to a new generation of Americans on their own turf.
But Kurtz wasn’t finished. He took his criticisms to his own Sunday program to lay into the President and the YouTubers again. This time he focused on a distinction between the YouTube personalities and mainstream entertainment programs on television saying that he is “fine with Obama going on Ellen, The View, Colbert, but isn’t this sort of like the low-rent district?”
First of all, it wasn’t too long ago that going on shows like Ellen was looked down upon in the same way that Kurtz is demeaning YouTube. Bill Clinton’s appearance on Arsenio Hall was widely mocked by the dino-press. The same is true when politicians began to take cautious steps onto late night shows like Leno and Letterman. In most cases they still complain that such appearances trivialize the political guest.
Secondly, for Kurtz to insult the YouTubers as “low-rent” displays a giant, family-sized bag of chutzpah. His program on the journalistic wasteland of Fox News has an audience of about half a million viewers. Fox News Sunday, pulls in about 1.3 million. But the YouTube trio who sat with Obama last week reach a much bigger audience. Hank Green’s Vlogbrothers has a YouTube subscriber base of 2.4 million. The flamboyant Glozell draws 3.4 million. And Bethany Mota pulls in a whopping 8.1 million people. That’s about four times the viewers of Bill O’Reilly.
In Kurtz’s MediaBuzz segment he ran a brief video that featured only a few moments of fun or silliness, and he implied that they were representative of the whole of each interview. That is a deliberate and bald-faced lie. Many of the questions asked of the President were as substantive and probing as any that the more “professional” reporters would have asked. For instance…
Hank Green asked Obama whether the issues he raised in the State of the Union were politically feasible. He also asked whether Obama’s policy of drone strikes would be viewed in retrospect as a misuse of technology.
Glozell addressed the issue of police relations with African-Americans. She also imposed on Obama to justify his initiative to reinstate diplomatic relations with Cuba and the Castros.
Bethany Mota began with a question that many of her generation are struggling with, making education affordable. She continued with questions about the Nigerian terrorist group, Boko Haram, which has not been getting the media attention that ISIS does, even though they have been at times more lethal.
It would be difficult for Kurtz to honestly find fault with these lines of questioning without condemning his own colleagues who have asked many of the same types of questions. But instead he chose to air some laugh lines and pretend that’s all that occurred. And his panel was no better. Jonah Goldberg of the ultra-rightist National Review whined that Obama “only likes to talk to people who think he’s awesome.” That will come as some surprise to Fox’s Bill O’Reilly and Bret Baier, who have both interviewed Obama. Either Goldberg has early onset Alzheimer’s or he is purposefully misleading. As for examples of profound inquiries by Fox News reporters, this morning Chris Wallace asked Obama’s Chief of Staff if because of the election results in November “Doesn’t the President need to scale back his agenda to work with Republicans?”
Really? So the President should abandon his principles and capitulate to a party that won a majority in the lowest turnout election in 70 years? And when did Wallace ever ask Republicans to scale back their agenda in 2012 or 2008, after big Democratic victories? In fact, one of the first things Wallace said after the first inauguration of Obama was to question whether he was actually president because Chief Justice Roberts flubbed the oath of office. Then GOP senate leader Mitch McConnell declared that his top priority was to make Obama a one-term president. And Rush Limbaugh said “I hope he fails.” Apparently no agenda scaling back was necessary for the Republican losers.
Before Kurtz maligns others as being in a “low-rent district” he should assess the value of his own property. What he will find is a petty, biased, plot of fear mongering and racism. It’s a tract that Fox News has spent years developing.