Disgraced CBS Reporter Demonstrates Why She Is Disgraced

Last month Sharyl Attkisson resigned from her job as an investigative reporter for CBS News. She blamed the departure on what she perceived as a liberal bias by the network’s brass that kept her stories off the air. But that excuse has little support behind it considering the fact that the current president of CBS News is David Rhodes, a former executive at Fox News who presided over the most brazenly biased right-wing propaganda that ever masqueraded as news.

CBS News David Rhodes

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This weekend Attkisson appeared on CNN’s Reliable Sources and was subjected, for the first time, to some pushback regarding her version of the events that led to her separation from CBS. In the course of the interview Attkisson made an irresponsible accusation for which she failed to offer any evidence. She alleged that Media Matters may have been paid (by some mysterious entity she declined to name) to attack her and her reporting:

“I clearly at some point became a target. I don’t know if someone paid them to do it or they just took it on their own. [...] I think that’s what some of these groups do, absolutely.”

Media Matters responded with a prompt denial saying that their coverage of her was “based only on her shoddy reporting.” And Attkisson’s wild claim about Media Matters is an excellent example of such shoddiness. Without a scintilla of proof, Attkisson went on a national news program and made an accusation of the worst sort of journalistic malfeasance. If that’s the kind of reporting she brought to CBS it’s no wonder they spiked her stories. And it is strikingly lazy, unethical, and self-serving to invent and disseminate an unsupported charge against Media Matters.

For the record, this is not the first time that Atkisson has been caught in an embarrassing breach of ethics. She has produced reports on issues like Benghazi and green energy that were riddled with flaws and omissions. But she seems most prone to crossing the line when the story is about her.

Last year she revealed that her computer was hacked by an unknown intruder. She appeared on Fox News with Bill O’Reilly and implied that the only plausible purpose for the hacking was to intimidate her due to her investigations on Fast and Furious and Benghazi. That put the suspicion squarely on somebody in the administration that didn’t like her snooping into those matters.

However, just as with her smearing of Media Matters, she offered zero evidence of her charges. She dismissed out of hand any possibility that she may just have been one of millions of victims of criminal hacking that goes on every day. At one point O’Reilly asked if she knew who the hacker might be and she said “Well, I think I know. But I am just not prepared to go into that.” This all happened nearly a year ago and Attkisson has still not told us what she allegedly “knows” about the identity of the hacker. What she did say was that she would proceed with her investigations and that she had the full support of CBS:

“We’re continuing to move forward aggressively, CBS News takes this very seriously, as do I.”

What’s interesting about that is that she is admitting that CBS was supportive of her efforts, contrary to her new story that they are hopelessly liberal and were holding her back. She described her relationship with Rhodes, the right-wing former Fox News exec, as being one where they had a “meeting of the minds.” That was her opinion at the time she was actually doing the work. Now that she has left CBS, and is preparing to publish a book that is critical of the Obama administration, her view has flipped 180 degrees, just in time to generate some controversy that might raise interest in her book (which is being published by Rupert Murdoch’s HarperCollins). But I’m sure all of that is just a coincidence.

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There is, however, a clear pattern of sloppy journalism and wild claims when Attkisson spouts off about computer hackers, liberal bias at CBS, and paid attacks from Media Matters, none of which is backed up by any proof. Her tendency to fling unsupported allegations at her perceived enemies shows that the disgrace with which she is now viewed by responsible journalists is well deserved. Lucky for her, Fox News regards that sort of bias and unprofessionalism as an asset, so her future employment prospects look good.

How Fox News Is Spinning The ObamaCare Enrollment Success Story

Conservative opponents of the Democratic health insurance agenda are heavily invested in its failure. From the outset they have portrayed it as a dangerous descent into tyranny that would destroy the magnificent American health care system and the nation as a whole. In its role as PR division of the Republican Party, Fox News did its part to demonize the law and frighten people away from signing up.

Now that the numbers are in showing that, defying all expectations, the program surpassed the goals that had been set in an early analysis by the Congressional Budget Office, Fox News is shifting into high gear to dismiss the facts. The latest example of this determination to avoid reality comes with the release of an extensive survey conducted by Gallup. The core of the survey’s results are apparent in their headline which reads “In U.S., Uninsured Rate Lowest Since 2008.” And if that isn’t clear enough, Gallup leads off their analysis by saying that…

“The uninsured rate has been falling since the fourth quarter of 2013, after hitting an all-time high of 18.0% in the third quarter — a sign that the Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as “Obamacare,” appears to be accomplishing its goal of increasing the percentage of Americans with health insurance coverage.”

The news of Gallup’s results was widely reported by the media. The Associated Press distributed an article to its member news organizations with the headline “Survey: Health insurance gains pick up.” This story was published by numerous outlets that represented a broad array of opinion, including the Miami Herald, ABC, Washington Times, Newsmax, NPR, Houston Chronicle, and even local Fox affiliates in Atlanta, Orlando, Phoenix, Chicago, and more. All with the lede provided by AP. However, Fox News chose to handle the same AP story in its own unique way by altering much of the content and changing the headline to “Gallup survey suggests sign-ups under ObamaCare not as high as White House says.”

Fox News ObamaCare

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Clearly Fox News contrived to present a more negative version of the story than the one told by the survey’s actual findings. A closer look at the differences between the AP’s original article and the one published by Fox reveals just how committed Fox is to misrepresenting the facts. The AP’s article began…

“A growing share of Americans got health insurance as sign-up season for President Barack Obama’s health care law came to a close last month, a major survey released Monday has found.”

The Fox News version altered that to say…

“A major new Gallup survey suggests the ObamaCare sign-up numbers are not as soaring as the White House claims.”

The AP’s article goes on to say that…

“The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index provides independent validation for White House claims that the law is expanding access, particularly for working people with no coverage on the job.”

That sentence was removed entirely from the Fox article, which choose instead to focus on speculation as to whether the total number of enrollees reached the 7.1 million mark touted by the administration. Although another sentence that was edited out by Fox said that…

“‘The Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as `Obamacare,’ appears to be accomplishing its goal of increasing the percentage of Americans with health insurance,’ said Gallup’s analysis of the findings.”

In addition, Fox removed a couple of quotes in the AP article. One was by White House senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer, who pointed out that there were “200,000 people who had started applications but weren’t able to finish by the deadline.” The other by HHS spokesman Aaron Albright, who noted that “This survey and other independent analyses highlight a historic expansion in coverage.”

To be sure, there were elements of the survey results that addressed possible shortcomings in the law’s uptake. These were covered by both Gallup and the AP. But they were featured prominently by Fox News, to the exclusion of most of the positive data. But Fox wasn’t satisfied with merely cutting out parts of the AP article that they didn’t like. They also added their own segments in order to further slant the coverage negatively. Where the AP said this…

“The survey also speaks to concerns about the consequences from last fall’s wave of insurance cancellations. Gallup’s data suggest most of the people whose existing policies did not measure up under the law were able to get new coverage, or took advantage of exceptions belatedly issued by the White House.”

Fox News substituted this…

“Some feared the cancellations of more than 4.7 million policies that didn’t measure up to the law’s standards would actually swell the ranks of uninsured people. That created huge political problems for Obama, who had promised Americans they could keep their insurance if they liked it.”

When comparing the presentation of the same data side-by-side, it couldn’t be more clear that Fox is endeavoring to manipulate their audience so that they come to a negative conclusion about ObamaCare. Gallup’s results are recognized as being a neutral snapshot of the nation’s opinions at a specific point in time. And even though many other news sources, including those with staunchly conservative views, published the AP’s story without alteration, Fox couldn’t help itself and chose instead to introduce a blatant bias into their reporting through a series of deceitful edits.

It is this sort of unethical and unprofessional conduct that makes it impossible to take seriously the Fox claim to being “fair and balanced.”

NBC News Exclusive: Putin Dissed George W. Bush’s Dog

As evidence of how far American journalism has fallen into the abyss of infotainment, minus the info, on Friday NBC’s Today show assigned their crack correspondent, Jenna Bush Hagar, to interview her father George at the opening of an exhibition of his paintings at his presidential library.

NBC Interview Jenna/George Bush

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The interview violated a slew of journalistic ethics, most notably avoiding a conflict of interest, real or perceived. The relationship between the former president and his daughter obviously precluded any potential for an enlightening news report. An example of the depth attained in this segment is this brief exchange about Bush’s encounters with Vladimir Putin:

Jenna Bush Hagar: You could tell from the very beginning that he was interested in power. And there is an anecdote that you’ve written about that is symbolic of that.
George W. Bush: Well, as you know, our dear dog Barney, who had a special spot in my heart, I introduced him to Putin. Putin kind of dissed him.

Indeed. Putin’s uncomplimentary remarks about the First Dog are symbolic of his aspirations to embark on a territorial clampdown that destabilizes the region and sours his relationship with the community of nations. Thanks to Jenna’s dogged reporting we now know more about the Barney Doctrine than was ever previously disclosed.

Unfortunately, Jenna never asked her dad about the war in Iraq, enhanced interrogation (aka torture), the economic meltdown, or any other area of controversy that enveloped the Bush presidency. And since Bush has rarely subjected himself to the media since he left the White House, any unfulfilled chance to fill in some of the blanks is a bitterly missed opportunity from a journalistic perspective.

For NBC to broadcast this charade represents a sad milestone in the collapse of television news. Whoever thought it would be a good idea to let Bush be questioned by his daughter should suffer eternal shame in the eyes of his or her colleagues. What’s more, any media critic that doesn’t condemn this sort of fluffery isn’t doing their job. Imagine the outrage that would have ensued if NBC News permitted Chelsea Clinton (whom they did briefly employ) to interview Bill Clinton. Fox News would have had a collective conniption.

And speaking of Fox News, their ability to fairly recognize media malfeasance is lacking, to say this least. On today’s episode of MediaBuzz, host Howard Kurtz made the following observation:

“Look, I know this constant coverage has been very, very good for [the] ratings, but I just don’t get the obsessive focus.”

Kurtz was talking about CNN’s coverage of the missing Malaysian plane. The first part of that statement that rubs reality the wrong way is that he doesn’t “get the obsessive focus.” Of course he does. He knows very well that it’s about ratings and he even says so in the beginning of the sentence. But more importantly, he is oblivious to the fact that the same commentary could be applied to Fox’s coverage of Benghazi. Although Fox’s motives are far more nefarious than merely goosing their ratings. Their obsession is focused squarely on attacking President Obama, and Hillary Clinton.

In other Bush news, Fox aired an hour long commercial for Jeb Bush’s prospective presidential campaign. It came in the form of an interview at the George H.W. Bush library during an event that was closed to the press. Lucky for Fox, they are not regarded as press and their own Shannon Bream was the interviewer. Her segments with Jeb were broadcast on the Fox News Channel along with cutesy bits from Mama Bush and other close associates.

However, the program may do Jeb more harm than good. He articulated a couple of positions that are not going to endear him to the fanatical Tea Party wing of his party that of late holds the keys to any nomination. For instance, he offered a rather sane opinion on immigration that will surely boil the blood of folks like Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin:

“They crossed the border because they had no other means to work to be able to provide for their family. Yes, they broke the law, but it’s not a felony. It’s an act of love. It’s an act of commitment to your family. I honestly think that that is a different kind of crime that there should be a price paid, but it shouldn’t rile people up that people are actually coming to this country to provide for their families.”

In addition, Jeb defended the Common Core educational initiative. Saying that “I’m totally committed” to Common Core is not going to win him any friends in the Tea Party. But what will surely bring the knives out in force is his criticism of fellow Republicans who caved to the irrational opponents of Common Core:

“I just don’t seem compelled to run for cover when I think this is the right thing to do for our country. And others have, others that supported the standards all of a sudden now are opposed to it. I don’t get it.’

Between George Bush’s inquisition by his daughter Jenna, and Jeb Bush’s friendly sit-down with a Fox anchor at a supposedly press-free event, the media has demonstrated this week that ethics are the last thing on its mind. And the fact that both of these affairs involved members of the Bush dynasty suggests that they, and the media, are not yet through screwing up our country.

Did GOP/Fox News Plan Fort Hood Shooting To Distract From ObamaCare Success?

As the March deadline for enrollment in the Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare) arrived, the White House proudly revealed that it had surpassed the goal of seven million enrollments set by the Congressional Budget Office. It was a target that many thought to be out of reach following the technical glitches that plagued the program’s Internet rollout. Under ordinary circumstances, such an achievement would have dominated the news for several days. The positive glow from having succeeded when most predicted failure could have permanently altered the public perception of ObamaCare which was already trending more positively in recent polls.

The very next day there was a horrific reprise of a deadly shooting at the Fort Hood army base in Texas that has sucked up every ounce of airtime across the television dial. Coincidence?

Of course it is. To be clear, there is absolutely no chance that either the Republican Party or Fox News had any part in orchestrating the Fort Hood shooting, despite the admittedly sensational headline of this article. This has been a demonstration of how Fox News would have responded if the news about ObamaCare was negative and some other news event pushed the bad news out of the spotlight. Fox would have objected strenuously to the media giving the President a pass rather than drooling over a potential White House flop.

This is not conjecture. It is precisely how Fox News has behaved in the past when they alleged that everything from the minimum wage to Syria to immigration reform were deliberate efforts to distract the public from the health care law when it appeared to be in trouble. It seemed like it would just be a matter of time before some rightist conspiracy nut (probably Glenn Beck) would come up with an alien baby for Sarah Palin as an excuse to avoid discussing ObamaCare.

Sarah Palin

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The Fort Hood shooting is a tragedy that deserves the attention of the media. However, it is usually the case that the press will fetishize a story to boost ratings, rather than to objectively inform their audience. Consequently, the uplifting success of ObamaCare will get short shrift following the Fort Hood homicides. Also bumped from the news cycle is the previous press fixation on Malaysia’s flight MH370.

One of the more interesting tangents dangling from the ObamaCare story that is now likely to be ignored, is the utter failure of right-wing critics of the law to predict the eventual outcome. Notable among them is former Bush crony and current GOP Super-PACman, Karl Rove who, when asked about the seven million sign up figure, said with complete and delusional confidence that “There is no way they’re gonna get anywhere close. It just ain’t gonna happen.” And he was not alone in mistakenly predicting failure for ObamaCare long before the numbers were in:

  • Investor’s Business Daily: Obama Just Guaranteed ObamaCare’s Failure
  • Human Events: ObamaCare’s ultimate failure
  • New York Times: Obamacare, Failing Ahead of Schedule
  • Daily Caller: New enrollment numbers suggest Obamacare is hurtling toward failure
  • New Republic: Obamacare Failure is a Threat to Liberalism
  • CNN: Opinion: Obamacare and the failure of half-baked liberalism
  • Townhall: Obamacare Is Failing Because The Product Sucks
  • Newsmax: Coburn: Obamacare is ‘A Failure Already’
  • Fox News: Former Gov. Sununu: ObamaCare ‘a complete failure
  • Fox Nation: ObamaCare: A Failure in Progress

As usual, there is no accountability for the media when they are wrong. It simply doesn’t matter how often they screw up, they will continue to enjoy a platform for their pitiful prognostications. As a result, the press gets to rant for months about what an abject failure ObamaCare is, and when all of that is proven to be bovine excrement, they pretend they never said it and hurriedly adopt a new obsession. Either that or they double down on their lies with no push-back from their pals on Fox. Even still, GOP deceivers like Sen. John Barasso go on Fox News and, without any evidence, claim that the administration is “cooking the books.” And Fox News clown-in-residence Jesse Watters alleges that Obama was “straight-up lying” about the sign-ups.

The GOP and Fox News certainly did not plan the Fort Hood shooting, but they gladly exploit it for their own partisan self-interests. So don’t expect to hear any more about the seven million ObamaCare enrollments on Fox, unless it is to claim that the numbers are fake. Ultimately this will leave Fox viewers in the dark again when everyone but them knows the truth about ObamaCare and everything else that actually happens in this world.

Right-Wing Media Feeding Frenzy Over False Story About White House Press Secretary

There is a strain of faith that intertwines everything that emanates from the conservative media pulpit. They are so fiercely intent on believing any bad news about President Obama and all things liberal that they will suspend common sense entirely in order to preserve their dark fantasies.

Right-Wing Media Circus

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Such was the case when Catherine Anaya, a local reporter with the Phoenix CBS affiliate KPHO, aired a segment introducing her interview with the President. She made some startling comments that reverberated throughout the right-wing mediasphere:

Anaya: We started here shortly after 8 o’clock with a coffee with press secretary Jay Carney inside his office in the West Wing. And this was off-the-record so we were able to ask him all about some of the preparation that he does on a regular basis for talking to the press in his daily press briefings. He showed us a very long list of items that he has to be well-versed on every single day.

And then he also mentioned that a lot of times, unless it’s something breaking, the questions that the reporters actually ask-or the correspondents-they are provided to him in advance. So then he knows what he’s going to be answering and sometimes those correspondents and reporters also have those answers printed in front of them, because of course it helps when they’re producing their reports for later on. So that was very interesting.

First of all, Anaya’s report began with the statement that her meeting with press secretary Jay Carney was “off-the-record,” and then proceeded to report it anyway. That’s the first sign that we are dealing with a spurious story. But the core of the controversy concerns her assertion that White House correspondents are required to supply their questions to Carney in advance. That nugget of pseudo-news set off a flurry of outrage from the usual right-wing media hacks. For instance…

  • Glenn Beck: Did a reporter just admit the daily White House press briefing is a sham?
  • Truth Revolt: WH Press Secretary Gets Questions from Reporters Before Press Briefing.
  • NewsBusters: Ariz. Reporter: Carney’s Briefing Questions ‘Are Provided to Him in Advance’
  • Weekly Standard: Reporter: WH Press Secretary Gets Questions from Reporters Before Press Briefing
  • Newsmax: Phoenix Reporter: Carney Gets Questions In Advance
  • Rush Limbaugh: Local Phoenix Reporter Reveals Jay Carney’s White House Briefings are Scripted with Questions Submitted in Advance

Needless to say, the story was not true. Anaya later corrected the record and apologized for her “bad reporting.” She admitted that “I made two major mistakes: I reported an off the record conversation and what I reported was not accurate. [...] The White House never asked for my questions in advance and never instructed me what to ask.”

The Weekly Standard is the only one of those listed above that placed a correction in their original story. Truth Revolt, a side project of Breitbart News editor Ben Shapiro (whose name candidly suggests a revolt against truth), went to the trouble of posting an update that only reported denials of the story by Carney and Fox News correspondent Ed Henry, but not Anaya’s retraction. NewsBusters, a website that purports to hold media accountable, just deleted the whole article with no acknowledgement of their error.

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None other than Fox News recognized the shoddy practices of news enterprises that fail to confirm the authenticity of their reporting. Howard Kurtz wrote for his Media Buzz column that…

“…even as this tale caught fire across the web, the only thing it proved is that a local CBS reporter mangled the facts —and has finally retracted her charge. [...] Bad reporting. Muddied. Incorrectly applied. And the apology took too long.”

Not exactly. It also proved that conservatives with partisan agendas will believe anything that fits their preconceived vision of an evil and calculating president. It also proves that they will disseminate their dishonest delusions even after they have been documented as false. The professional missteps of Anaya were unfortunate and embarrassing, but the blindness and persistence of those who continue to flog her mistakes even after she apologized is far worse because they have knowledge of their deceit and engage in it anyway.

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.”

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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.

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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

Guess How Fox News Covered Ted Nugent’s Hate Speech

Remember when Barack Obama was campaigning for president and Fox News tried to shackle him to anyone they thought would damage his reputation? Bill Ayres, who was barely an acquaintance, turned into a terrorist that Obama was “palling around with.” Rev. Jeremiah Wright became a daily fixture on the Fox News Channel consuming more airtime than the actual presidential candidates. And others, from Louis Farrakhan to Ludacris, were presented as villains that Obama was obligated to renounce, despite the fact that he had nothing to do with them and they were not a part of his campaign.

Which brings us to 2014 and the utterly reprehensible Ted Nugent, who recently called Obama a “subhuman mongrel.” That’s the least of the disgustingly hostile remarks that Nugent has spewed at the President and other targets of his sickly wrath. Yet Nugent was embraced by Greg Abbott, the leading Republican candidate for the governorship of Texas, who even shared the stage with him to accept his endorsement.

When this twisted relationship came to light, some in the media properly put it in context with inquiries about whether it was appropriate for a gubernatorial candidate to link arms with a vulgar, racist, misogynist, pedophile. But one network maintained complete silence, ignoring the controversy entirely. That is until after Nugent issued what may be the most starkly non-apology apology ever made:

Nugent: I do apologize – not necessarily to the President – but on behalf of much better men than myself, like the best governor in America, Gov. Rick Perry. The best attorney general in America, God, just think of America had an attorney general as great as Greg Abbott, like we do here in Texas. So on behalf of those professional politicians, and those who put their heart and soul into representing We The People so actively, like the people I just mentioned [...] I apologize for using the street fighter terminology of subhuman mongrel instead of just using more understandable language such as violator of his oath of the Constitution. The liar that he is.

It can hardly be considered an apology if it expressly excludes the person who was the target of the original attack. Nugent was only sorry for the wingnut politicos who suffered due to their association with him – which was really more their fault, than his. Nobody forced them to accept his advances. Likewise, an apology doesn’t ordinarily include additional personal accusations of lying and treason.

So after ignoring the story when it first broke, and then pretending that Nugent’s apology was even remotely sincere, Fox News addressed the matter again on Howard Kurtz’s Media Buzz. It was a brief segment near the end of the program that only peripherally mentioned Greg Abbott. To Fox News the meat of the story had something to do with a dispute with CNN.

Fox News

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Notice the lower-screen graphics that label the story as “Ted Nugent vs. CNN.” It isn’t Nugent vs. Abbott, or Nugent vs. Obama, or Nugent vs. Decency. Somehow Fox squeezed out an angle that cast the story as a dust up with a competing news network. This is not an incidental point. A team of Fox editors and producers had to have had a meeting to hash out this preposterously skewed perspective. They must have begun with a determination to avoid allowing the story to negatively impact Abbot, or others with whom Nugent has been affiliated, including Ted Cruz, Scott Walker, and Rick Perry. Then they brainstormed a way to deflect the muck onto a common enemy. Lookout “liberal” media.

Once again Fox News has demonstrated that they are more interested in protecting their allies and attacking their enemies than they are in informing their viewers. The deliberation that had to have been mustered in order to concoct this nonsense illustrates just how hard they work at being deceptive and unethical. And all that hard work pays off in an audience of blindly loyal dimwits with the same ignorant incivility as Nugent.

ABC, CBS, NBC Criticized By Fox News For Being Just Like Fox

From it’s very inception Fox News has been the most adversarial news network that ever took to the air. Even it’s slogan taunted competitors by inferring that they were not “Fair and Balanced.” Whenever they see an opportunity to criticize other media, they leap on it with the ferocity of ravenous jackal. Such is the case with a report today on the Fox Nation website. The headline indicted the broadcast news programs for partisan bias saying that “ABC, CBS, NBC Report Ray Nagin Conviction, Neglect To Mention His Political Party.”

Fox News - Nagin

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Oh My God! That is a travesty of a mockery of a sham of a mockery of a travesty of two mockeries of a sham. Any so-called “news” enterprise that would so brazenly distort the facts of a story in this manner should be ridiculed and ostracized from the community of reputable journalists. They should surrender their credentials and slink away in shame.

The only thing worse than neglecting to note the political party of a convicted former mayor would be to neglect to note that the network making the criticism did the very same thing. That’s right…When Fox News reported on the conviction of Nagin they also left out any mention of his party affiliation (video below). Shepard Smith broke into Gretchen Carlson’s program with a two and a half minute “Breaking News” alert that covered just about everything else that is known about Nagin, complete with graphics and video. So it would be difficult to argue that they didn’t have enough airtime or time to prepare.

The Fox Nationalists sourced their story to the ultra-rightist media bashers at the Washington Free Beacon who wrote that…

“CBS Evening News, NBC Nightly News and ABC World News broadcasts gave brief mention to the conviction of former New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin Wednesday on 20 federal counts, including bribery and conspiracy, but all three omitted the fact that he was a Democrat.”

It says something about the research skills (or the rank dishonesty) of these supposed media analysts that they managed to monitor the big three nets for what they regard as flawed reporting, but failed to catch the same omission by the top-rated cable news network that shares their ideological bias. They would certainly never bother to complain about Fox when it, on multiple occasions, misidentified Republican scoundrels as Democrats without ever correcting the record.

Fox News Mislabels

On a more substantive note, the complaint that network news failed to mention that Nagin is a Democrat may not be a particularly serious oversight. When Nagin was indicted, the news spinners at NewsBusters made a similar complaint about network news reporting. What none of these stories mention is that Nagin’s party designation was a fairly fluid matter. As I wrote at the time

“The right’s panic over whether or not the media should have identified Nagin as a Democrat ignores the fact that his association with the Democratic Party was a matter of political opportunism. Nagin had been a registered Republican for most of his adult life. He only switched parties when he decided to run for mayor of the heavily Democratic city of New Orleans. Even after his election he associated with, and behaved as, a Republican. As mayor he routinely favored the interests of his business constituents over the people. He was an avid supporter of George W. Bush prior to his election, and GOP governor Bobby Jindal afterwards.”

So it isn’t really much of a blunder to leave out the party affiliation of a slippery character like Nagin. In fact, if identifying his party were considered integral to the story, a responsible journalist would note that Nagin was more of a Republican than a Democrat. But if Fox is going to go out of their way to make their competitors look bad for leaving this information out, then they ought to include themselves in their criticism if they really want to be fair and balanced.

Does Fox News Have A Culture That Encourages Personal Attacks?

Much of the cable News circus was preoccupied this weekend with remarks made by MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry about Mitt Romney’s family. It was a relatively trivial incident that sought to highlight the blinding whiteness of the Romney clan and, by extension, the Republican Party for which he was was briefly the de facto head. Harris-Perry apologized for the comments and her apology was accepted by Romney and it seemed as if life on Earth would endure.

Enter Howard Kurtz, the media analyst for Fox News. On Friday he published an op-ed, which was followed by a segment on his Sunday Fox News program MediaBuzz, wherein he proposed his theory that MSNBC suffers from a “culture in which harsh personal attacks are encouraged, or at least tolerated.” His evidence for this was a series of recent controversies involving personalities at MSNBC, which he claimed not to be biased against.

Kurtz: I’m not designing this to bash MSNBC, but you had Martin Bashir with the vile attack on Sarah Palin, apologizing and then losing his job. You had Alec Baldwin losing his job at MSNBC over an alleged anti-gay slur hurled at a photographer. Now Melissa Harris-Perry. Is there something in the culture there that tolerates this unacceptable language?

One has to wonder why, if Kurtz did not intend to bash MSNBC, did he focus solely on “unacceptable language” by people on MSNBC. It’s not as if he didn’t have plenty of examples of Fox News anchors and pundits who did much the same thing. Just within the past week Fox’s Mike Huckabee compared doctors at a hospital, that had been caring for a girl who was pronounced brain dead, to the Nazi regime that was responsible for the murder of millions. Fox also hosted a former CIA agent who recently wrote an article that advocated the assassination of President Obama and British Prime Minister Cameron. Neither of these commentaries entered into Kurtz’s examination of the culture of cable news. The only observation that Kurtz deemed notable was his severly skewed impression of how conservatives are viewed by liberals.

Kurtz: If there is a theme to these episodes, it is a view of Republicans and conservatives as so mean-spirited, hard-hearted and clueless that just about any rhetoric against them can be justified.

Thus we had the spectacle of Martin Bashir so reviling Sarah Palin that he not only called her a “dunce” and an “idiot” but prescribed for her an old slave treatment in which he said someone should defecate in her mouth.

Oh my. Bashir called Palin a “dunce” and an “idiot.” Apparently Kurtz has never seen Bill O’Reilly’s program where for years he has had a regular segment in which he called his liberal adversaries “pinheads.” Not that he needed a dedicated segment to disparage his foes. He was found by Indiana University to have called people derogatory names every 6.8 seconds. Recently O’Reilly even expressed his hostile intentions toward the Democratic Majority Leader of the senate, saying…

“Harry Reid, I think you’ll have to kidnap. Tie him to a tree up in Idaho somewhere, leave him there for a few weeks.”

Surely O’Reilly will insist that the was joking about kidnapping and torturing Sen. Reid, but the Harris-Perry segment was premised that it was all in humor. The same cannot be said for Glenn Beck’s declaration that Obama was a racist who hated white people. Neither Beck nor his superiors ever apologized for that. In fact, Rupert Murdoch agreed with it. Perhaps the most glaring example of repulsive rhetoric was that displayed by Fox News contributor Erick Erickson upon the retirement of Supreme Court Justice David Souter when Erickson said

“The nation loses the only goat fucking child molester to ever serve on the Supreme Court in David Souter’s retirement.”

Fox News

Let’s not forget the Fox News community website, Fox Nation. It’s culture is so riddled with hostility that they won’t even refer to some people by their actual names. The Fox Nationalists refer to Sen. Al Franken as Stuart Smalley, after a character he played on Saturday Night Live twenty years ago. They also call comedian Bill Maher “Pig” Maher for reasons no one seems to know. [For more on Fox Nation, read Fox Nation vs. Reality, a book that documents the website's steady stream of lies]

There are, however, some notable differences between the incidents of verbal abuse as articulated by MSNBC and Fox News. At MSNBC the lapses in judgment were followed by apologies and sometimes suspensions or terminations. The lapses at Fox were either celebrated or ignored by management and often repeated with more emphasis by the abuser.

So Howard Kurtz has the gall to wonder if there is culture of harsh personal attacks at MSNBC where such incidents are routinely punished, but he has no concerns about his own network where they are a point of pride. That’s a distinct difference that would enter into the analysis of an honest media critic. Luckily, Kurtz works for Fox so he doesn’t have to worry about being honest.

New York Times Demolishes Benghazi Hoax – Fox News Freaks Out

After what was described as an “exhaustive investigation” the New York Times has published a report that thoroughly debunks right-wing accounts of attacks on the United States mission in Benghazi on September 11, 2012. The story concludes that there was no direct Al Qaeda involvement and that many of the participants in the attack were motivated by an anti-Islam film, an explanation that Republicans and conservative media had dismissed.

The months following the attack led to a relentless campaign by Fox News and others to promulgate their Benghazi Hoax theory of events, but they were never able to supply the evidence to support their wild accusations against President Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, UN Ambassador Susan Rice, and other administration targets of their politically inspired wrath.

Benghazi Hoax

Excerpts from the New York Times article: A Deadly Mix in Benghazi

Months of investigation by The New York Times, centered on extensive interviews with Libyans in Benghazi who had direct knowledge of the attack there and its context, turned up no evidence that Al Qaeda or other international terrorist groups had any role in the assault. The attack was led, instead, by fighters who had benefited directly from NATO’s extensive air power and logistics support during the uprising against Colonel Qaddafi. And contrary to claims by some members of Congress, it was fueled in large part by anger at an American-made video denigrating Islam.

The violence, though, also had spontaneous elements. Anger at the video motivated the initial attack. Dozens of people joined in, some of them provoked by the video and others responding to fast-spreading false rumors that guards inside the American compound had shot Libyan protesters. Looters and arsonists, without any sign of a plan, were the ones who ravaged the compound after the initial attack, according to more than a dozen Libyan witnesses as well as many American officials who have viewed the footage from security cameras.

[O]n Sept. 8, a popular Islamist preacher lit the fuse by screening a clip of the video on the ultraconservative Egyptian satellite channel El Nas. American diplomats in Cairo raised the alarm in Washington about a growing backlash, including calls for a protest outside their embassy.

There is no doubt that anger over the video motivated many attackers. A Libyan journalist working for The New York Times was blocked from entering by the sentries outside, and he learned of the film from the fighters who stopped him. Other Libyan witnesses, too, said they received lectures from the attackers about the evil of the film and the virtue of defending the prophet.

Republican arguments appear to conflate purely local extremist organizations like Ansar al-Shariah with Al Qaeda’s international terrorist network.

The leaders of Ansar al-Shariah…lauded the assault as a just response to the video.

Not surprisingly, Fox News reacted swiftly to the New York Times reporting to defend their vested self-interest in advancing some sort of conspiracy on the part of members of the Obama administration. First to take Fox’s fire was Hillary Clinton. On Fox News Sunday, host Chris Wallace asked GOP Rep. Mike Rogers a particularly loaded question whose premise was not supported by any evidence.

Wallace: Do you think there was a political motivation for this Times report? Some people have suggested that, well, this is trying to clear the deck for Hillary Clinton in 2016.
Rogers: (saying that he “finds the timing odd”) I don’t know but I find it interesting that there was this rollout of stories.

Wallace never identified who the people were who suggested that the Times was clearing the deck for Hillary. He simply used the old “some people” contrivance to disguise the fact that it was Wallace himself who making the ludicrous suggestion.

Fox’s Catherine Herridge also did a report about the Times story that dismissed much of its findings, but offered no substantive rebuttal to the facts as they were laid out by the Times. In addition, she brought along a uniquely preposterous angle that did little to advance the discourse:

“Fox News was able to review the findings of an independent data mining firm which assessed the social media traffic in Benghazi in the 24 hours leading up to the attack and the 24 hours after the attack and, significantly, the first reference to this anti-Islam video was in the day following. It was in a retweet of a Russia Today story. So once again, this does not comport with the idea that this was in response to the anti-Islam video.”

This is a demonstration of Fox’s desperation to belittle the Times’ story. Trying to tie references to Twitter mentions of the event with affirmations of its execution is absurd in the extreme. Especially when there were verifiable accounts of information about the film being broadcast on local Libyan television, and many witnesses testified of its impact as an inspiration for the violence.

Stalwart proponents of the Benghazi Hoax also appeared on TV this weekend to defend their rapidly dissolving positions. They included GOP super-hawk Peter King and the mastermind of a flurry of fake scandals, Darrell Issa, who said on Meet the Press that “We have seen no evidence that the video was widely seen in Benghazi, a very isolated area, or that it was a leading cause.” If Issa hasn’t seen any evidence, he obviously hasn’t been paying attention. Or more likely, he is deliberately diverting his attention to the dishonest horror stories he prefers to peddle.

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Fox News has behaved true to form in the wake of the revelations published by the Times. They circle their wagons and defend their phony and sensationalist version of what they laughably call “news.” They fail to address any of the specific assertions in the story and retreat to friendly interviews with conservative characters who will plod forward with their false narratives. The last thing Fox wants is for people to be exposed to actual journalism that presents information in a coherent and factual manner. That would destroy the whole Fox business model if it got out of hand.

Addendum: You didn’t think that Fox Nation was going to be left out of this hoax-mongering, did you? They jumped in with two stories about the New York Times article, and both were typically dripping with lies and partisan distortions, as they have been known to do (see abundant proof in the acclaimed ebook Fox Nation vs. Reality).

Fox Nation

The CBS ’60 Minutes’ Benghazi Hoax Was Overseen By A Former Fox News Executive

The biggest media story of the week was clearly the confession by CBS that their big Benghazi Hoax on 60 Minutes had relied on a disreputable figure who had lied to pretty much everyone involved. CBS has now apologized for the broadcast and will issue a correction on the air tonight.

But the question of how the network could have fallen for what in retrospect appears to be a transparent fraud still lingers. The evidence of the falsehoods in their source’s account were easily discovered by reporters who bothered to look. The explanation for CBS’s failure to do so may lie in the identity of the executives in charge of the network’s news operations.

CBS News David Rhodes
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The President of CBS News is David Rhodes, who assumed the post in February of 2011. His bio on the CBS website tells us something of his professional past:

“Rhodes began his career as a Production Assistant at the newly-launched Fox News Channel in 1996, where he later became Vice President of News. At the network he managed coverage of three presidential elections, wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, hurricanes including Katrina, and was the channel’s Assignment Manager on the news desk the morning of September 11, 2001.”

What this tells us is that Rhodes was a top executive at Fox News during the hotly contested 2000 presidential election where Fox mistakenly called the state of Florida (and thus the nation) for George W. Bush. He was there when Fox News was cheerleading for the U.S. to invade Iraq, a country that had nothing to do with 9/11, and did not pose any threat to America. He was there when Fox was defending Bush’s disastrous response to Hurricane Katrina. He was there during the economic meltdown of 2008 to make sure that it was blamed on poor people buying homes and the Democrats in Congress. He was there when Fox was hyping electoral attacks against candidate Obama that included maligning ACORN, advancing associations with Rev. Jeremiah Wright and Bill Ayers, and of course, the everlasting nonsense of birtherism.

In short, Rhodes was one of the principal architects of the Fox News slant toward far-right extremism and brazen conservative partisanship. CBS News must have known what they were getting when they hired him. Additionally, 60 Minutes correspondent, Lara Logan, has been known to swing rightward, particularly with regard to a militaristic foreign policy.

Following the 60 Minutes episode, much of the conservative media rushed to regurgitate the false accounts presented. Chief among them was Fox News where, the day after the broadcast, Fox devoted 47 minutes to heralding the story as validation of their prior reporting on the issue. That’s three times as long as the original story on CBS. Since then they have spent only 26 seconds (yes, seconds) informing their viewers that the story was utterly false. And the Fox News community website and notorious peddler of lies, Fox Nation, didn’t bother to report the CBS retraction at all.

Given the benefit of this perspective, it is not surprising that CBS would allow itself to be cajoled into believing the fabrications of an obvious grifter. There was such an inbred attraction to his distortion of reality that they were willing to disseminate it to their audience without subjecting it to routine scrutiny. The fact that their source was also the author of a book that was being published by a company that CBS owns and is run by a prominent conservative operative, Mary Matalin, should also have been a red flag. Matalin’s company, Threshold Editions (a division of Simon and Schuster) also publishes books by Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Karl Rove, and Dick Cheney. [The Benghazi book has now been pulled from release].

Fox News Dementia: Media Is Not As Hard On Obama/Syria As They Were On Bush/Iraq

On Fox News this morning there was a segment debating the media coverage of the “Crisis in Syria” (video below). On any other network this would have been a legitimate subject for debate and a fascinating topic. But leave it to Fox News to broadcast a version of history that makes Snow White’s adventures with seven diminutive forest dwellers look like a PBS documentary.

Fox’s Martha MacCallum opened the segment with a declarative motion for which she provided no factual basis: “Critics are suggesting that the media is not nearly as hard on President Obama about the potential of going into Syria, as they were on President Bush and his war that he fought in Iraq.” The reliance on a ghostly assemblage of unnamed critics is a variant of the “some say” tactic of inventing a premise with which a lazy commentator can project a dishonest argument. But it was just the lead-in that conservative guest Monica Crowley required to say this:

“Most of the media were very skeptical about any kind of military intervention in Iraq. They raised a lot of very legitimate questions. They also pounded President Bush and his team relentlessly in the run-up, during the war and of course even still to this day over that war. [...] It was just the fact that it was President Bush prosecuting this war. When you look at the difference between that coverage and the coverage of President Obama…in this run-up to a possible action in Syria, it’s like night and day.”

Fox News
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Indeed, it is like night and day. But not in any way meant by Crowley. Prior to the Iraq war, the media was in virtual unanimity with respect to supporting Bush and his fraudulent escapade. Even the factions of the media that are most often regard as liberal enclaves were banging the drums of war.

Recall that it was the New York Times that employed Judith Miller (now with Fox News) who was instrumental in providing cover for the Bush administration’s pro-war agenda. She was a trusty vessel for the dissemination of propaganda from Bush’s war hawks. She was the reporter most responsible for validating false intelligence on Saddam Hussein’s weapons capabilities and ambitions.

If you watched MSNBC at the time, you might recall that the top rated program was hosted by talk show legend Phil Donahue. He was a prominent skeptic of the looming U.S. invasion of Iraq. Consequently, the management of MSNBC viewed him as a “difficult public face for NBC in a time of war.” His show was canceled in February of 2003, shortly before the invasion.

The media presentation of dissent was nearly non-existent. Despite the fact that millions of Americans took to the streets to protest the war, the media declined to cover the demonstrations. Contrast that with the way they slobbered over a few malcontents in a tiny and unpopular political sect known as the Tea Party, and a handful of their hollering rubes at town hall meetings ranting about their opposition to health care.

The characterization of the media as going soft on Obama with regard to Syria is also delusional in the extreme. As expected, Fox News has been harshly critical of Obama no matter what he does. Last week they hammered him for taking a unilateral stance and failing to consult Congress on a possible reprisal for Syria’s chemical weapons deployment. This week they are bashing him for wasting time with congressional consultations and weakening the presidency by seeking them. What’s more, Obama has come in for criticism by pundits on the left like Rachel Maddow and Thom Hartmann and even Jon Stewart.

The right-wing directive to refrain from criticizing a president during international hostilities is apparently only in effect when a Republican is in the White House. Critics of Bush were often called traitors when they expressed their opposition to his policies. But outraged Tea-publicans are now encouraged to disparage the Commander-in-Chief in the most vile terms. Today it is the President who is called a traitor by right-wing protesters who fancy themselves as patriots.

In light of these facts, it is incomprehensible how Crowley can take to the Fox News channel and offer a twisted version of history wherein Obama is getting a pass and Bush suffered outrageous slings and arrows. And what is even more disturbing is that so many Fox News viewers are too dimwitted to separate the Fox fallacy from reality.

Fairly Unbalanced: Fox News Politburo Purges Democrats At Senate Hearing On Syria

When President Obama announced that he would seek the opinion of Congress with regard to a military response to the use of chemical weapons in Syria, the hypocrisy of the right immediately rose to the surface of the debate. Many of the same people who had previously condemned the President for not seeking congressional approval, shifted to criticizing him for doing so.

Fox News
For more Fox [distortions of the] News read
Fox Nation vs. Reality.

However, nothing illustrates the transparent intention to oppose Obama regardless of what he does as the coverage of the Senate hearings on Syria that commenced today.

Fox News was generous enough to broadcast the opening statements of Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, as well as those of the committee chairman Robert Menendez and ranking GOP member Bob Corker. From there on, however, their coverage had a much more partisan hue.

At about 4:00 pm (ET), Fox cut away from the hearings for an interview with former congressman Ron Paul. Fox then methodically skipped questioning from Democratic senators as if they were mere interruptions. Then, when it was Tea Party darling Marco Rubio’s turn, Fox went back to the live broadcast. But their return was just for Rubio’s opening statement and initial question. They immediately cut away again when Sec. Kerry began his answer. Fox then skipped the next Democratic senator completely, but aired the accusatory inquiries of GOP Sen. Ron Johnson. Guess what happened when Johnson finished his question and the cameras turned to the witness table – live coverage stops. This pattern repeated itself again with Democratic Sen. Coons getting cut, followed by John McCain getting covered in full.

At one point during the coverage, while Fox was airing a series of right-wing analysts bashing Obama, Neil Cavuto promised that as soon as Rand Paul’s turn came around, he would return to the live hearing. It was an explicit admission that Fox had no intention of airing any other part of the hearing that might include Democrats, but would faithfully broadcast their pal Rand Paul. And since Cavuto’s program ended before Paul’s time came, the promise was repeated by Dana Perino in the next Fox program. Lo and behold, Fox refrained from airing anything else from the hearing until Paul, then left the hearing again when Democrat Tim Kaine began his question time.

This couldn’t have been a more blatant demonstration of bias. Democratic senators were virtually ignored. After Republican questions were aired, the answers by the Democratic representatives of the administration’s cabinet were likewise ignored. This was clearly an editorial decision, and it is further evidence that Fox cannot be taken seriously as a news network. They are an openly partisan propaganda outfit for the benefit of the Republican Party. Their mission is to advance a conservative agenda, and that means preventing their already ignorant audience from being exposed to opinions that differ from those of the right-wing commentariat.

Irony Alert: First Issue Of Biased Fox News Newsletter Questions Media Bias

This morning marks the debut of a new service by the folks at Fox News aimed at delivering their trademarked GOP-authored propaganda directly to your email inbox. The “Fox News First” newsletter introduces itself asking…

“Always wanted Fox’s political must-reads? Now you can have them. Each weekday morning, our DC team, led by Chris Stirewalt, delivers the FOX NEWS FIRST political newsletter.”

For those of you who don’t know him, Chris Stirewalt, Fox’s digital politics editor, is the smarmy correspondent who appears daily on Fox’s “America Live” with a round-up of right-wing outrages to titillate their frenzy-starved audience. His television persona is reminiscent of a perverse Mr. Rogers approaching a potential child victim, complete with creepy, twisted smile, darting eyes, and sickly, syrupy voice.

Fox Nation vs. RealityThe premiere issue of Fox News First features a collection of anti-Obama stories and generally conservative items to whet the appetites of the Fox faithful. It is a compendium of broadsides aimed at liberals, but that have little connection to reality. [Speaking of which, have you read my ebook, "Fox Nation vs. Reality" yet?] They lead off with an obligatory shout out to the Benghazi conspiracy crowd, then segue to how Obama is screwing up Egypt. This is followed by a slap at ObamaCare that manages to include an ACORN angle. At Fox they never let an old pseudo-scandal go to waste.

The newsletter includes quotes from GOP governors Rick Perry and Scott Walker, along with critical comments by other conservative politicians and pundits. There is even a blurb about the most activist Supreme Court Justice in history, Antonin Scalia, who laments the activism of the Supreme Court. What’s missing is any attempt to provide balance by reporting the views of liberals or Democrats. But then, that isn’t the purpose of the newsletter, or of Fox News.

However, perhaps the funniest bit of blather in this utterly useless screed, is the nod to Fox’s new media analyst, Howard Kurtz. Commenting on today’s launch of the Al-Jazeera cable news network, Stirewalt notes that Kurtz is wondering whether the network can “shake its reputation for bias and fulfill its promise of more serious news and less fluff?”

Seriously? Is he talking about Al-Jazeera or his new boss, Fox News. Because the notion of Fox News questioning the ability of another network to shake it’s reputation for bias is downright hysterical. That’s Fox News, the network that hires half the Republican candidates for office as political analysts. Fox News, the network that cribs their stories from RNC press releases. Fox News, the network that fills their airtime with manufactured controversies and conspiracy theories against Democrats. Fox News, whose reputation for bias couldn’t be shaken by dropping it in the San Andreas fault during the Big One. That’s the Fox News that wonders about the seriousness and fluff of Al-Jazeera, an award-winning international news enterprise?

With the announcement of his hiring at Fox, Kurtz said that he wanted to bring his “independent brand of media criticism to Fox News.” He is off to a pitiful start.

Media Goes Silent As Texas Defends Constitutionality Of Racial Discrimination

In what may be the most under-reported story of the year so far, the media has virtually ignored the shameful response by the state of Texas to a Department of Justice challenge of voter discrimination in the state.

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One Vote

In June, the right-wing majority in the Supreme Court struck down a key provision in the fifty year old Voting Rights Act of 1964. In doing so they sanctioned efforts by racially biased state governments to discriminate against minority residents and other voters they want to suppress.

Attorney General Eric Holder moved quickly to mitigate the harm caused by the decision. He directed the Justice Department to seek a court ruling to require Texas to get permission from the federal government before making changes to their voting laws under a different section of the VRA.

Last week Texas responded to the DOJ filing with an astonishing admission that the intent of their voting reforms is to discriminate. They masked the ultimate purpose in a political argument, but the result is unarguably racist and unconstitutional. Rick Hasen of the University of California at Irvine caught the offensive passage in the Texas filing:

“DOJ’s accusations of racial discrimination are baseless. In 2011, both houses of the Texas Legislature were controlled by large Republican majorities, and their redistricting decisions were designed to increase the Republican Party’s electoral prospects at the expense of the Democrats. It is perfectly constitutional for a Republican-controlled legislature to make partisan districting decisions, even if there are incidental effects on minority voters who support Democratic candidates.”

The argument by the state of Texas is that they are deliberately discriminating against Democratic voters, not minorities or other protected classes of citizens, and they regard that as permissible. The first problem with their argument is that it is questionable to assert that it is constitutional to “make partisan districting decisions.” Any overt attempt to suppress the voting rights of any citizen is challengeable and potentially in violation of civil liberties.

More to the point, the claim that they are only aiming their discriminatory activities at Democrats is disingenuous and unsupportable. The redistricting maps proposed by the Republican-controlled Texas legislature cut obviously across racial boundaries. The clear intent is to segregate blacks and Latinos into the fewest number of districts possible, denying them equal representation. These maps were struck down by federal courts as blatantly discriminatory, but now the state can re-introduce them with the blessing of an atrociously reasoned Supreme Court decision.

There is simply no way to pretend that the statement made in the filing defending the constitutionality of discrimination against Democrats is anything other than a defense of discrimination against minority communities in Texas. Given the demographic breakdown of the district mapping, it is absurd and grossly dishonest to assert that the “effects on minority voters” are “incidental.” What the state of Texas is doing is racism, pure and simple.

So where is the media coverage of this outrageous admission made in an official court document? None of the television news networks has reported on it. None of the major national newspapers has published a story about it. A few Internet news outlets have done some commendable reporting on it, but their reach is minimal at this point.

Without the establishment media informing the nation that this sort of institutionalized racism is going on, it will continue unabated. And if there is one thing that this proves other than the fact that racism is still deeply ingrained into some of our government systems, it’s that the conservative complaints about media are wholly without merit. Liberal media my ass!

Seriously? Fox News Complains About Liberal Media Attacking Fox News

The Fox News interview of Reza Aslan, author of Zealot, was one of the most pathetic displays of journalistic bias and incompetence in recent memory. The interviewer, Lauren Green, has been roundly and deservedly criticized for her amateurish attempt to ambush her guest and foment a fake controversy. The response from media professionals has been been nearly unanimous that Fox botched the affair.

However, Fox, true to form, stiffens their back and refuses to accept responsibility for an embarrassing episode and slink away with some sense of humility. They have characteristically fought back with ferocious intensity, defending their anchor and slandering their guest. Numerous articles have already appeared on FoxNews.com, but the full-on blitzkrieg took place on the air with anchor Shannon Bream fluffing the head of the uber-rightist Media Research Center, Brent Bozell.

Bozell led off his sycophantic exculpation by declaring that “I’ll be the first one to applaud Lauren Green for the question that she asked.” Bozell insisted that it was entirely appropriate to impugn Aslan repeatedly while ignoring any actual discussion of his book. He further asserted that Aslan should have confessed to having a bias, saying that…

“If he is going to take the attitude that he is just a scholar, he just happens to be Muslim, that he really doesn’t care about this issue so much, he’s not a very good Muslim.”

Bozell, a devout Catholic, may not be the best person to make that judgment. But more to the point, Aslan is indeed taking the attitude that he is a scholar who happens to be Muslim. Therefore, according to Bozell, he is not biased. Bozell actually seems to be complaining that Aslan isn’t more deferential to his faith, in which case he would be a “good” Muslim and biased. But Aslan isn’t cooperating with Bozell’s conspiracy theory.

As for anchor Shannon Bream, she could not have been more complicit with Bozell’s determined smear tactics. She opened her report saying…

“It started out with very far-left media questioning Lauren, criticizing her, saying she shouldn’t have asked the question, or that it was any of her business what his prerogative may have been on writing the book. It then trickled out into more and more mainstream media and it’s taken on a life of its own – the discussion about Lauren versus the book or the author.”

In point of fact, not a single critic ever suggested that Green should not have asked Aslan about his faith or his motivation. The criticism was that she never stopped asking about it. She obsessed over it despite his having answered her several times. Then Bream has the gall to complain that the story in the media was more focused on Green than on the book. That’s exactly what Aslan complained about throughout Green’s ridiculous interview.

The blockheaded incoherence exhibited by Green, Bream, and Bozell, was illustrated perfectly by the graphic that Fox displayed during Bozell’s segment. It read, “Liberal media attacks Fox reporter.”

Fox News
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In case you’ve been stationed on a lunar base for the past several years, Fox whining about attacks from the liberal media is evidence that their cerebral cortexes have atrophied. Fox has been on a non-stop campaign of attacking every other media outlet as dishonest, dangerous, even treasonous, since the day they launched. Fox’s slogan, “fair and balanced,” is itself an assault on the integrity of their competitors. For a sampling of how Fox deals with their media peers…..

  • Liberal media spin Benghazi scandal to protect Team Obama
  • Scandals raise new questions about liberal media bias
  • Gosnell had an accomplice in murders — the liberal media
  • Liberal media will ‘shut you down, stab you, kill you, fire you’ if you disagree
  • Liberal media lash out at Romney for daring to criticize Obama
  • Liberal media lavish praise on Obama but mercilessly mock Rubio
  • Did Liberal Media Plot Against Sarah Palin?
  • Bias Bash: Liberal Media slam possible conservative suitors
  • Bozell: Liberal Media Censoring Information About ObamaCare
  • Liberal media attacks as Woodward ‘threat’ seen as political threat to Obama
  • What the Liberal Media Are Missing
  • Racism charges a first-class way for liberal media to attack
  • Liberal media’s hateful obsession with Sarah Palin
  • Liberal Media Admits ‘The Democrats Have Lost on Sequestration
  • Liberal Media’s Dilemma Covering Obama’s Libya Decision
  • The Liberal Media’s Assault on Christianity
  • Opinion: The Liberal Media Loved Obama To Death
  • Liberal Media Panic Reaches Boiling Point

This list could go on and on. And it doesn’t even include the personal attacks leveled by Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, Eric Bolling, the Fox & Friends crew, etc. Fox spends more time on attacking the rest of the media than they do on reporting the news. But to be fair, they hardly ever report actual news, so that isn’t a particularly revealing criticism.

Fox News Presents: Islamophobia On Parade

For years Fox News has been the central clearinghouse for bigoted attacks on the Islamic faith. They have featured anchors and guests who assert that all Muslims are terrorists. They openly oppose freedom of religion when it is Muslims who are seeking it (remember the Ground Zero Mosque?). They virulently assault any person or group who advocates tolerance and cooperation with peaceful Islamic representatives, including American citizens. And this week they demonstrated their repugnant hatred once again.

On Friday, Sean Hannity converted his Fox News program into a liberal bashing festival of hate and deceit. He assembled a studio panel heavily weighted to conservative extremists to take on the subject of “Saving America.”

For some reason, the task of saving America had much to do with Anthony Weiner’s troubled campaign for mayor of New York City. There was little controversy on this matter since every participant agreed that Weiner’s behavior was unconscionable. However, one participant was critical of the debate because she felt it distracted from a much bigger problem:

Brooke Goldstein: “What’s amazing to me is that we’re spending time debating ‘Shmecklegate’ when Huma Abedin, who has connections to the Muslim Brotherhood, who is connected to the chief financier of Al Qaeda, is his wife and has top security clearance.”

To which Hannity replied: “This is a great point.”

Goldstein is regurgitating, and Hannity is concurring with, a long ago debunked lunacy that was invented by noted Islamophobe, Pamela Geller. The falsehood that Abedin is a Muslim Brotherhood double agent in the Obama administration has been spread by the likes of David Horowitz, Glenn Beck, Michele Bachmann, Steve King, and more. These cretins stuck to their slander even after GOP House Speaker John Boehner called their remarks “dangerous,” and Sen. John McCain slammed them as “an unwarranted and unfounded attack on an honorable citizen, a dedicated American, and a loyal public servant.”

Later on Fox News, anchor Lauren Green conducted an interview (video below) with author Reza Aslan whose new book, Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth, explores the historical life of Jesus. Aslan is professor of religion with four degrees (including one in the New Testament) and twenty years experience studying, teaching, and writing about world religions. Nevertheless, the only thing that Green thought was relevant to the discussion was that Aslan is also a Muslim.

Green berated Aslan repeatedly about why he would write a book about Jesus. She seemed to be unable to comprehend that a scholar with impressive credentials in the subject would concern himself with a major historical religious figure who was not of his faith. Aslan politely pointed out that it is his job as an academic to write about these things. But after numerous efforts, Green continued to question his motives.

After enduring this barrage of nonsense, Aslan addressed it specifically wondering aloud why, instead of discussing the content of his book, they were arguing about whether he had a right to write it. He also pointed out that Green’s insinuations that he would have a negative bias toward Christianity were absurd considering that his mother and his wife are both Christians. But none of this seemed to have an effect on Green’s determination to find something sinister in Aslan’s intentions.

At one point, Aslan touched on an obvious hypocrisy in Green’s questioning. He wondered whether she would have any problem with a Christian author writing a book about Mohammed. As it turns out, a colleague of Pamela Geller, and the director of the anti-Islam Jihad Watch, Robert Spencer, wrote a book titled “The Truth About Muhammad: Founder of the World’s Most Intolerant Religion.” The title pretty much gives away the perspective of the author. However, that didn’t stop Fox News from interviewing him on numerous occasions. He has appeared on Hannity, Glenn Beck, Happening Now, and Fox & Friends, among others. They even identified this obviously biased Christian on the air as an “expert in Islamic law and history.”

Fox News

So, for some reason Fox considers it OK for a Christian extremist to write a viciously derogatory book about Muslims, but they find it totally inappropriate for a respected academic, who happens to be Muslim, to write fair and balanced historical look at Christianity. If there was ever any ambiguity as to whether Fox News harbored overt religious prejudice, these incidents should put the question to rest.

[Update] Media Matters has dug into the background of Fox anchor Lauren Green and found that she has reported on Muslims on several occasions despite being a devout Christian. She even wrote that only Christians can be truthful journalists:

“Journalists’ first obligation is to seek truth, and the only way absolute truth can be found is by measuring humanity’s idea of truth against God’s standards, she said. Therefore, the only way for a journalist to achieve ultimate success is to hold to the Christian faith.”

This really helps to explain the astonishingly twisted behavior of Green during her segment with Aslan. She doesn’t believe that Aslan, or any non-Christian, is capable of telling the truth. And this is the sort of openly bigoted reporter that Fox employs.

Fox News Black Out: No Reporting On Juror Who Said Zimmerman “Got Away With Murder”

Fox News George ZimmermanIt’s not bad enough that Fox News openly rooted for George Zimmerman before, during and after his trial. Nor that they denied that race could have played any part in the crime or the subsequent proceedings and coverage. Nor that they shamelessly, and without foundation, demonized Trayvon Martin as a violent thug. Nor that they insulted all African-Americans by insisting they would resort to massive rioting after the acquittal (which did not occur). Nope. Now Fox is brazenly perverting the news landscape by what they choose not to report.

Yesterday, ABC News aired an interview with “Maddy,” a woman who sat on the Zimmerman jury and made significant news with her remarks. She told Robin Roberts that she believed that Zimmerman “got away with murder.” She went on to express sympathy for Trayvon’s parents and said that “in our hearts we felt he was guilty.” In the end, however, she felt that the state had not proved its case and she voted to acquit along with the other jurors.

Maddy’s statements were obviously newsworthy and were covered by most legitimate news outlets. Her observations were in sharp contrast to the previous juror who came forward, identified only as B37, shortly after the trial concluded. B37′s interview was covered broadly by the media including Fox News. Additionally, Fox’s Sean Hannity interviewed an alternate juror, E54, who said that he agreed with the verdict and believed that Zimmerman was justified in shooting the unarmed teenager.

Somehow Fox has decided that the only juror to go public with comments sympathizing with the Martin family was not suitable for coverage. In my research I have not found a single report broadcast on the network since Maddy’s interview with ABC News. This cannot be regarded as an accident. Given the broad-based coverage elsewhere, it is clear that Fox made an editorial judgment to black out Maddy’s story and deprive their audience of critical information.

This is blatant evidence of how Fox manipulates the news and their gullible audience. It is further confirmation for why Fox News viewers are repeatedly shown to be the most ill-informed audience when compared to other news sources, or even to those who don’t watch news at all.

~~~ Be Sure To “LIKE” News Corpse On Facebook

[Addendum] No sooner did I post this example of Fox editorializing by omission than Media Matters posts three more examples: Fox fails to report the racist comments by GOP Rep. Steve King and Fox fails to report on voter fraud when committed by Republicans and Fox fails to report on the conservative cabal Groundswell after obsessing over the liberal JournoList.

[Update] Fox News finally addressed Maddy’s interview on The O’Reilly Factor with guest host Laura Ingraham, whose contribution to the discussion was to say she doesn’t like post-trial interviews and that juror opinions don’t matter.

SURPRISE! Fox News Audience Overwhelmingly Anti-Obama Republicans

Gallup just released the results of a new survey on where Americans get the their news. Not much about the findings are particularly earth-shattering, however, a couple of points reveal something notable about the Fox News audience.

Gallup reports that 55% of respondents cite television as their main source for news. As usual, the breakdown of that data reveals that a fair chunk of the viewers selected Fox News as their go-to network (8%), with the remainder of the legitimate news networks dividing the majority of the audience who are not blinded by the right. In fact, more than twice as many respondents chose sources other than Fox.

Somehow, these results have produced a flurry of stories proclaiming that Fox is the most popular news network. The shallowness of that conclusion is typical of media analysts who can’t see past a simple list of possible responses.

The method Gallup used for their inquiry was to ask an open-ended question that leaves it up to the respondent to choose how much specificity to apply. The answer with by far the most mentions was simply the generic “Television,” which received 26%, and is more than three times the mentions of Fox. The only thing that this tells us about Fox is that their viewers are more cultishly attached to the network and will recite its name upon command.

The most revealing part of the Gallup survey was the question that broke down the responses by political views. In this category, Fox News registered some astronomically high numbers for bias. 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.

Fox News - Gallup

For more Fox-aganda bias, get the acclaimed ebook:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Community’s Assault on Truth

Surely Fox is aware of the character profile of their audience. And just as surely, their editors react to such market research by tailoring their programming to viewer preferences. Consequently, it should surprise no one that a network where more than 90% of its audience are conservative Republicans who hate President Obama spins every story in favor of the right and virulently against Democrats or anything remotely liberal. At this point, anyone denying the reality of this is desperately in need of intensive therapy and high doses of medication.

FLASHBACK: Before Fox News Attacked The IRS, They Embraced It To Attack Media Matters

In researching the recent controversies over the IRS and its alleged targeting of conservative non-profits, I stumbled across an article I wrote two years ago that unveils yet another blatant hypocrisy from Fox News (as if more were necessary to make the point). The current programming on Fox is dedicated almost non-stop to hammering the Obama administration for the misbehavior of low-level IRS staff. The story has even supplanted their previous pet scandal, Benghazi. And despite making broad accusations of complicity by the President, they have failed to provide even a smidgen of evidence that he had any role in the way that non-profits were selected for review.

That simple fact, however, has not stopped Fox from launching a sustained campaign of outrage aimed at the IRS, which they now regard as a totalitarian agency bent on destroying America and freedom. But it was not always thus. Not too long ago, Fox News was happy to use the IRS as a cudgel against their own perceived enemies. They embarked on mission to wipe the watchdog group Media Matters off the face of the earth. It was a weeks-long effort that included dozens of broadcast segments explicitly recruiting their viewers to file falsified complaints challenging the tax-exempt status of Media Matters. In the process they brought in pundits, and lawyers, and even their in-house “Psycho Analyst” to paint a disparaging portrait of the organization and its founder.

Fox News - Media Matters

The irony of Fox using the IRS to harass a non-profit organization just because they disagree agree with it will surely be lost on everyone at Fox and everyone who watches it. Below is the article re-posted in full because it is still as relevant today as it was then. Actually more so, with the addition of Fox’s newly minted contempt for the IRS.


Media Matters Has Fox News Scared And Desperate

[July 11, 2011] In the untamed jungle that is cable news, there is a ferocious and predatory beast stalking the terrain. Anyone who has encountered Fox News in the wild can attest to the spine-chilling threat imposed by the pseudo-news network. And now Fox News has the scent of new game.

The Fox News pack is on the prowl for the media watchdog group, Media Matters, against whom they have recently initiated a sustained assault. In the past two weeks they have featured over 30 stories with the express purpose of challenging the group’s right to exist. Fox has assigned network stalwarts like Bill O’Reilly, Bret Baier, Charles Krauthammer, James Rosen, Ann Coulter, Dick Morris, and Bernie Goldberg, to the mission. This is an unprecedented, broadly distributed attack by a major media enterprise against a non-profit group they regard as an adversary.

This latest batch of complaints stem from comments made last March by Media Matters founder, David Brock. He was quoted in Politico as saying that the organization was shifting its focus toward Fox News to one of “guerrilla warfare and sabotage.” Giving Fox the benefit of doubt, one might conclude that it’s only fair that Fox defend itself from such an overt declaration of war. The only thing that might refute that perspective is – reality.

If this is war, it is one wherein Fox is the aggressor. Fox News initiated their attacks long ago with aggressive and false assertions that cast Media Matters as hacks, anti-American, violent, and communist. They alleged that George Soros was pulling their strings long before Soros ever made any contributions the group. Fox stalwarts like Bill O’Reilly and Glenn Beck engaged in rhetoric so hostile that it inspired actual physical attacks against Media Matters and their progressive allies. This video (courtesy of Media Matters) was posted two years ago and illustrates the hostility harbored across the Fox platform long before Brock’s recent comments:

The new and highly coordinated offensive by Fox asserts that Media Matters has violated the terms of their tax-exempt status by setting their sights on Fox. They quote from the IRS rules governing non-profits that state that…

“…501(c)(3) organizations are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office.”

On the basis of that criteria, Fox News argues that Media Matters is in violation and should have their tax-exempt status revoked. However, in order for that to be valid, Fox would have to admit that they are a political operation so that attacks on Fox News would qualify as opposition to political campaigns and/or candidates. Without that stipulation there is no violation on the part of Media Matters. So Fox is, in effect, conceding their role as a Republican mouthpiece. Shocking, I know.

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