In October of 2010, Fox News launched the Fox News Latino website in order to mitigate the massive disadvantage Republicans faced with Latino voters. Latinos are the fastest growing demographic in the nation and their voting power is increasing with each election. So even though the Republican Party has been alienating this constituency with blatantly detrimental policies, Fox News was determined to try to save the GOP from its own prejudices.
The Fox News Latino site has been used as the dumping grounds for stories that Fox News was uncomfortable with presenting to their 99% white audience. So it is common to see Fox sequester stories with ethnic themes on the Latino site so they can avoid offending their much larger audience on the Fox News mothership. News Corpse has documented numerous examples of this, and here are just a few.
In another twist on this journalistic fraud, Fox News published an article that exposed Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio as a couple of the Senate’s biggest truants. Despite the fact that they are both in their first terms, they have missed more votes and/or committee hearings than most of their colleagues.
Just today, Cruz gave a venomous condemnation of Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch and the importance of voting against her, then skipped out without voting. [Lynch was confirmed 56 to 43] So it’s interesting that these freshmen senators are currently among the leading candidates for the GOP nomination for president.
Not only are they lacking the most basic qualifications for the job they seek (particularly from the Republican perspective that claimed President Obama was unqualified), but they haven’t even been doing the job that represents their only plausible qualification. What they’ve been doing, of course, is running for president. But maybe they should have acquired some experience first, or at least done some work in their current jobs.
The story revealing the poor attendance records of Cruz and Rubio was prominently displayed on the Fox News Latino web site. However, Fox News didn’t bother to report it either on the air or online. With this strategy Fox can say that they covered the story somewhere, but they don’t wind up giving a great deal of negative exposure that might cause electoral headaches for their Republican pals. Especially those who are favorites of the far-right, Tea Party contingent that makes up most of the Fox audience.
There is no valid argument for restricting this story to just the Latino website. While Cruz and Rubio obviously share a heritage that is relevant to the site, their position in a national campaign makes this news relevant to the whole nation. Apparently Fox News doesn’t want the nation to know about this, so it’s downgraded to an ethnic niche site that most of their audience will never see.
Imagine if Fox News had only reported stories about Obama in 2008 on a separate African-American website. What Fox is doing is dishonest and racist. It is a disservice to their audience and a corruption of journalism. In other words, it is business as usual at Fox News.
If you aren’t doing anything this coming Friday, and you have an hour to devote to becoming more ignorant, Fox News is airing special report based on a book that makes wholly unsubstantiated allegations against Hillary Clinton.
The book “Clinton Cash” has been getting a great deal of promotion from Fox News and other right-wing media outlets, although it won’t be released for another couple of weeks. The author, Peter Schweizer, is one of the most widely discredited writers working today. His past is replete with criticisms from across the political spectrum and his books have been ridiculed for sloppy investigations and sources who don’t exist.
Schweizer is now the president of the Government Accountability Institute, an organization that is bankrolled by the Koch brothers and was founded by the head of Breitbart News. The GAI has previously embarrassed itself by publishing studies that brazenly misrepresented (or invented) the facts related to their bogus reporting. News Corpse covered one such incident involving an alleged foreign fundraising scandal that supposedly “rocked” the Obama reelection campaign. However, the study didn’t cite a single example of a foreign donation and the authors admitted to Fox’s Steve Doocy that there is no such evidence. Likewise, another GAI study claimed that Obama took more vacation days than average private sector workers. Once again, the study totally distorted the data that actually showed that Obama took far fewer days off.
Now Schweizer has a new book that has been been promoted as a devastating blow to Clinton’s campaign. Rand Paul teased the media by saying that he has “been briefed by Peter Schweizer on this book, and the facts are going to be alarming.” Sean Hannity unleashed a frantic rant saying that “These newest allegations…have the potential in the end to derail this presidential campaign.” These are just two examples of a flood of headlines and hyperbole that say much the thing, that Hillary Clinton’s presidential aspirations will be over just as soon as the book hits the shelves.
There is only one problem with their prognostications of doom. The book is a fraud that proves nothing. The early reports from people who have actually read it indicate that the author fails to connect any of the dots that the wingnut media is hyping. And according to ThinkProgress, who got a copy of the book, even Schweizer admits that he has no proof of anything untoward:
“Schweizer explains he cannot prove the allegations, leaving that up to investigative journalists and possibly law enforcement. ‘Short of someone involved coming forward to give sworn testimony, we don’t know what might or might not have been said in private conversations, the exact nature of the transition, or why people in power make the decision they do,’ he writes. Later, he concludes, ‘We cannot ultimately know what goes on in their minds and ultimately provide the links between the money they took and the benefits that subsequently accrued to themselves, their friends, and their associates.'”
In other words, he’s got nothing but wild accusations and speculation. But it gets even worse. ThinkProgress also found a segment in the book where Schweizer cites a press release as back-up for his charges. Unfortunately for Schweizer, the press release was revealed to be fake back in 2013, a fact that he had plenty of time to discover and avoid putting forth as corroborating evidence.
This is typical of the sloppiness that has dogged his career. The rebuttals to the book on the basis of his dishonesty and lack of professional ethics have already begun to worry his defenders at Fox News. They are resorting to propping him up by asserting that attacks on his credibility are rooted in partisanship, rather than the abundant evidence of his hackery. Fox News anchor Harris Faulkner rushed to his aid saying that “You talk about tearing Schweizer down because he was formerly with Republicans. What about George Stephanopoulos?”
Isn’t it cute how Faulkner tries to slip in the suggestion that Schweizer was “formerly” with Republicans, as if he is no longer a committed right-wing activist, as evidenced by his leading the Koch-funded GAI? But more to the point, what does Stephanopoulos have to do with this? He hasn’t written a book filled with lies aimed at smearing a Republican presidential candidate. No doubt Clinton backers are just as partisan as any other politicos, but the problem with Schweizer isn’t his party affiliation, it’s his credibility and integrity.
Which brings us back to the special on tap for Friday. Fox News will broadcast an hour long program titled “The Tangled Clinton Web” that is anchored by Bret Baier and based on Schweizer’s book. However, the book has already been revealed to be a fraud whose author admits that he doesn’t have the goods on Clinton and whose book is rife with errors and uses hoax press releases as proof. And there are still a couple of days before the special airs for more revelations to be uncovered.
This Fox News special is tainted before it has even aired. Will they include any of the info that has come out about the book in their broadcast? Will they try at all to be fair and balanced? Not likely, given the track record for Fox. And even though they’ve got plenty of lead time to include the truth, Fox has demonstrated that truth is not a part of their criteria for reporting what they mistakenly call news.
Objective viewers have long ago concluded that Fox News is not, and never has been, a legitimate news network. They began as a project by right-wing propagandist Rupert Murdoch and Republican media strategist Roger Ailes to spread disinformation and promote GOP politicians. And for the past 17 years they have carried out that mission with a roster of rabidly partisan hosts broadcasting provable lies.
Now, with the publication of the “Hollywood Reporter’s 35 Most Powerful People in New York Media 2015,” Roger Ailes, the Fox News chairman and CEO, has confessed that his network, despite its name, is not actually in the news business. Belittling his cable news competitors CNN and MSNBC, he gave the Reporter a statement revealing his true professional aspirations:
“In fact, Ailes, 74, no longer views those networks as rivals. ‘We’re competing with TNT and USA and ESPN,’ he says.”
So according to Ailes, he regards channels that are plainly entertainment and sports as his competition, not other news outlets. That is not really all that surprising if you have examined the Fox programming model with any depth. News Corpse has previously analyzed how Fox incorporates methods that are generally reserved for entertainment programs. As recently as last month we published a description of the hyper-dramatization Fox injects into their presentation:
“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 that 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.”
Ironically, Fox News was labeled as an entertainment channel way back in 2007 by TV Guide, a magazine that was owned at the time by Rupert Murdoch. There was a reason that Murdoch might have deliberately categorized his own “news” channel as entertainment. It mainly centers around the fact that entertainment programming always outperforms news programming. [More on this theory here]
Also of note in Ailes’ statement to the Hollywood Reporter is his appreciation for a certain program on MSNBC:
“I flip to MSNBC occasionally to make sure their blind pig didn’t find an acorn. But they never have once. I tell you who I do like at MSNBC — I like Joe and Mika.”
Setting aside his childish insults, the fact that Ailes likes Morning Joe is reason enough to cancel the program. After all, Ailes also likes pathological liar Bill O’Reilly, bombastic librul-hater Sean Hannity, rightist tool Neil Cavuto, news floozy Megyn Kelly, clown boy Steve Doocy, and I don’t even have sufficient adjectives for Donald Trump and Sarah Palin. If I were Joe Scarborough I’d be thinking “With friends like Ailes, who needs enemas?”
Yesterday marked the arrival of the second official candidate for the Republican Party’s nomination for President of the United States. Kentucky senator, and former self-certified ophthalmologist, Rand Paul placed himself in contention for the nomination at the Galt House in Louisville. For those fortunate enough to have never slogged through Ayn Rand’s tedious and preachy novel “Atlas Shrugged,” John Galt is a leading figure who is best known for epitomizing the childish “take my ball and go home” philosophy of social interaction.
In what may signal a trend in the GOP’s strategy for launching a political campaign, Paul went straight from the Galt House to Sean Hannity’s House at Fox News for his first post-announcement interview. That is exactly what Ted Cruz did after announcing his candidacy at Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University, where students were threatened with fines if they did not attend. Perhaps Fox News has implemented the same policy wherein Republican candidates will be fined, or otherwise punished, if they do not pay their respects to Hannity before proceeding with their campaign.
While it is no surprise that GOP presidential wannabes would kowtow to Fox News (aka the PR division of the Republican Party), it is a demonstration of their arrogance that they are not at least trying to disguise their biases for the sake of appearing to be credible. Apparently that ship has sailed, been commandeered by Fox pirates, and is now rusting on the ocean floor.
As for Paul, he delivered what he called a “a message that is loud and clear and does not mince words.” Indeed, it was loud. And that message turned out to be decades old sloganeering whose words relay nothing of substance: “We have come to take our country back.” It’s easy to mock this theme by asking simply “back to what?” From all appearances, Paul wants to take us back to the Reagan years, with its soaring deficits, crushing unions and working people, abandonment of the poor and mentally ill to the streets, and illegally bankrolling foreign terrorists with money made from selling arms to terrorist states.
However, the more interesting question is who does Paul mean when says “We?” The “we” that he is leading so that he can snatch the country back from the citizens who twice elected Barack Obama, are the bankers, oil barons, and other privileged elites who he would free from regulations that protect the public from their greed and abuse. Paul is a favorite of the Koch brothers and, of course, Fox News kingpin, Rupert Murdoch.
It will be interesting to see how the rest of the GOP roster rolls out their campaigns. Marco Rubio is anticipated to be next in line. He would be smart to skip the Hannity ring-kissing ceremony, if just to differentiate himself from the pack. After all, he could go straight to Megyn Kelly and still satisfy his bosses at the network.
And just for fun…
Paul was famously outed as a plagiarist by Rachel Maddow who noticed that his speeches were curiously identical to the Wikipedia page for the movie Gattaca. If that seems like an odd source for staking a false claim of authorship, then what do we make of his having designed a logo for his presidential campaign that appears to be a rip-off of the logo for the hook-up site, Tinder?
I’m just asking. And while we’re at it, why do both Paul and Cruz feature flames in their logos? Is it to convey their belief that “the world is on fire,” as Cruz told a frightened little girl?
UPDATE: Marco Rubio did indeed make Hannity his first media stop. That makes Hannity and the GOP field three for three.
After nineteen years of flogging the most partisan right-wing propaganda and serving as the PR division of the Republican Party, It is astonishing, and somewhat comical, that Fox News can still present itself as “fair and balanced.” That delusion requires a measure of either self-deception or rank dishonesty that defies comprehension.
And yet, that is precisely the position taken by Fox’s Godfather of Gumption, Bill O’Reilly. On Thursday’s program O’Reilly butted heads gently with his frequent guest and sycophantic hanger-on, Bernie Goldberg, who tried meekly to assert the obvious.
Goldberg: Liberal news organizations are gonna play down liberal screw-ups. But Fox News is gonna play down conservative screw-ups. O’Reilly: I disagree with that. Let me tell you why.
Thereupon, O’Reilly set out to prove that he and his “flagship” show is a paragon of neutrality goodness. As evidence he bragged about featuring “unbiased” commentators like Charles Krauthammer and Brit Hume. Which is a little like saying that inviting David Duke to dinner proves you’re not a racist. O’Reilly goes on to insist that rabidly partisan Fox hacks like Megyn Kelly, Bret Baier, and Chris Wallace are ideological straight shooters. And while Goldberg agrees with him on every count, he still asks O’Reilly incredulously…
Goldberg: So Fox isn’t the conservative network? Is that what you’re trying to tell us? O’Reilly: What I’m saying to you is that I never bought that Fox is the conservative network. I buy that Fox gives conservatives a voice that they don’t have on the other networks. There’s no right-wing jihad on this network. If somebody’s screwing up on the right they get hammered.
Well, except for all the times that Fox has simply declined to mention conservative screw-ups, scandals, and blatant lies. And when Fox can’t help but mention some right-wing fiasco, they devote most of their time and energy to defending the wingnut miscreants responsible for it.
A conveniently timed example of this came in a segment from Thursday’s Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Reporting on the hypocrisy of Fox News coverage of the Justice Department’s investigation of police conduct in Ferguson, Missouri, Stewart noticed Fox’s one-sided focus on the exoneration of officer Darren Wilson, while completely ignoring the DOJ’s conclusions that the Ferguson PD engaged in routine discrimination and racist behavior. Stewart compared Fox’s response to the DOJ report with their non-response to a Republican House Intelligence Committee’s report debunking the lies that Fox had been telling about Benghazi for years. Summing up he succinctly articulated…
“…the beauty that is the ugliness of Fox News. They demand accountability for anger and divisiveness, whilst holding themselves entirely unaccountable for their anger and divisiveness.”
You’ll be waiting a long time for Fox News to apologize for getting virtually everything wrong about Benghazi. Apologies are a foreign concept to Fox. And O’Reilly is the poster boy for arrogant refusals to take responsibility for mistakes, deceptions, and outright lies. The recent unveiling of a career-long pathology of dishonesty and personal glorification, complete with documentary evidence of his deliberate falsehoods, has failed to produce the slightest bit of contrition or shame, much less an apology. To the contrary, O’Reilly’s response has been to lash out by insulting and literally threatening his critics. And when he isn’t on the attack, he resorts to distractions such as this week’s anti-Semitic segment calling Jewish philanthropist George Soros a “Puppet Master” who controls governments and banks and other institutional levers of power.
O’Reilly’s anger, divisiveness, and evasion of accountability are emblematic of the Fox mindset. And his inability to admit the starkly conservative biases of Fox indicates an acute case of denial. Anyone who continues to believe that Fox News is a fair arbiter of information needs to adjust their meds. And that includes O’Reilly.
In the commotion surrounding Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s address before Congress, Fox News and their partners in rightist propaganda insisted that anyone who did not support his appearance and hawkish agenda were anti-Israel and even anti-Semitic. However, that view is not shared by most Americans or most Israelis.
Subsequent to the speech, Netanhayu’s popularity has dropped in the U.S. to 38% favorable. Clearly the speech was not well received by Americans. That decline puts Netanyahu’s rating more than ten points lower than President Obama. And if you think that’s bad, his host, GOP Speaker John Boehner, is now more than ten points lower than Netanyahu.
Critics of the speech warned that it was inappropriate for Congress to provide a platform for a foreign official who was currently engaged in a political campaign. Those warnings were borne out when shortly after Netanyahu returned to Israel to resume his reelection effort he released an ad featuring video of the U.S. Congress applauding him. So Boehner was successfully suckered by Netanyahu into helping him produce campaign materials.
Despite this international assistance, Netanyahu’s reelection bid is struggling. He has fallen further behind his main opponent, Labor Party leader Isaac Herzog. And now, with the prospect of Netanyahu losing, Fox News and Republicans in Congress are laying the groundwork for an explanation for the failure of their hero. They are promoting an allegation that the Obama administration is interfering with Israeli elections in order to defeat Netanyahu. Of course they are. Like everything else – Netanyahu losing would be Obama’s fault.
The conspiracy revolves around their discovery that a former Obama campaign operative is working for a group that opposes Netanyahu’s reelection. That is an entirely routine activity. It is precisely what campaign consultants of both parties do for a living. But that didn’t stop Fox News from reporting in multiple segments an alleged effort by the administration to oust Netanyahu. The allegations are so important to Fox that on Sunday morning anchor Uma Pemmaraju interrupted a segment about Hillary Clinton’s email to ask about the Israeli election and a rumored Senate inquiry:
“There is a Senate probe apparently, that is launched, a bipartisan probe, to investigate concerns about a non-profit agency taking government funds to try and be involved in interfering with Israeli elections set for Tuesday. […] This particular group, apparently, has ties to the White House, no direct link has been determined at this point about whether the White House has been sending operatives into Israel to be involved with interfering in upcoming elections set for Tuesday. But the fact that if this group is found to have used government grants, up to $350,000 from the State Department, that would be a real violation of ethics and raise some big concerns.”
Twice in that “question” Pemmaraju used the loaded phrase “interfering with Israeli elections,” even though she also admitted that there was “no direct link” to Obama. Media Matters documented efforts to advance this smear a month ago by rightist fringe groups. Now it has percolated up to Fox News and senate investigators. Media Matters showed that political consultants from both sides frequently do work in other countries (like good capitalists). They also showed that former Obama operatives have worked in support of Netanyahu. And the allegations of federal funding were shown to have no merit as the funds were not used in conjunction with any campaign because the elections had not even been announced at the time.
So the facts show that there is no effort on the part of the White House to interfere with the Israeli elections. However, Speaker Boehner and Republicans in congress did interfere with Israeli elections by providing candidate Netanyahu with a platform and campaign material. They also permitted Netanyahu to interfere with American politics by trying to sway foreign policy in opposition to diplomacy with Iran.
And after this brazenly partisan, factless, regurgitation of an unsupported wingnut conspiracy theory, Fox News returned to their regular anti-Obama programming with Pemmaraju employing this subtle segue: “Turning now to the Select Committee investigating Benghazi…” Of course. What else?
Not since the days of Keith Olbermann’s reign at MSNBC has Bill O’Reilly resorted to such relentless attacks on the network. His perceived victimization by a media cabal that he says is simultaneously impotent and omnipotent is reaching psychotic levels. And all of this is due to the fountain of lies that he has been spewing for decades and for which he is now being called upon to answer.
O’Reilly’s latest retaliatory harangue (video below) came at the opening of Monday’s Factor where he set out to claim once again that everything he does is sanctified by God because he has high ratings (First Church of Nielsen the Redeemer). His Talking Points Memo, titled “Hating Fox News,” heralded a new Quinnipiac poll that O’Reilly bragged “shows that Americans trust Fox News more than any other TV news agency by a substantial margin.”
As anyone familiar with O’Reilly’s aversion to the truth would know, he did not tell the whole story. The same poll shows that Fox News is also the network that is least trusted by Americans. Now why do you suppose he left that out? The fact that Fox received a vote of confidence from 29% of the poll’s respondents means that 71% trusted another network more. That is not exactly something of which to be proud. What’s more if you add up the two categories of positive responses for trusted networks (a great deal + somewhat), Fox News is second to the last. It beats only MSNBC by a mere 3%.
If anyone is “Hating Fox News” it is the majority of the American people who reject its frothing hostility, fear mongering, and perversion of the facts. But no one should mistake O’Reilly’s tirade for a reasoned commentary on the popularity of the media. This rant is a thinly veiled assault on those who are demanding that he come clean about the frequent lies he has told to portray himself as an intrepid reporter risking life and limb to bring truth to the people. But rather than taking on his critics forthrightly, he takes a more cowardly approach by pretending to be a victim of powerful enemies seeking the destruction of his employer. He’s attacking a broader, ambiguous foe because he’s afraid to face his critics head on. And of course that foe is, in his mind, a humongous titan of evil, even though he also insists that it is a weakling that has no support and can’t compare to the superhuman powers of Fox News.
Somehow all of this makes sense in O’Reilly’s cartoon brain. However, his campaign against his critics consists entirely of bluster, distractions, and outright threats. That’s why in Monday’s program he never once addressed the growing number of documented falsehoods he has been caught telling. He just continued boasting about his ample audience and the prominent role that Fox News plays in shaping the American media.
On that note, O’Reilly pulled back the curtain on the journalistic fraud that is Fox News. The facade of fairness and balance is just another one of the lies that are baked into the Fox mission. In this one episode O’Reilly repeatedly confessed to the unethical biases of Fox. For instance, he said that…
“Our primetime programs set the political agenda.”
“The fact is that Fox News is now a deep threat to the progressive movement and the far left despises us so they are in full attack mode desperately trying to marginalize FNC.”
“There are just two national news agencies that challenge the progressive agenda with authority: the Wall Street Journal editorial page and the Fox News Channel.”
“If FNC did not exist, America would be a far different place and the far left ideology would have a far easier time. But we do exist and now dominate the primetime news cycle. Not good news for progressive politicians, the liberal media, and crazed zealots on both sides.”
How are any of those overtly partisan statements consistent with the practice of professional journalism? O’Reilly is admitting that Fox is a political advocate of the right. This is why most media observers regard Fox as nothing more than the PR division of the Republican Party. Additionally, O’Reilly’s analysis that Fox’s very existence is bad news for progressives flies in the face of reality. Someone should inform him that President Obama was elected twice despite the existence of Fox which fought so hard against him.
There is one thing, however, that O’Reilly got right. America would be a far different place without Fox. There would be far less wingnut propaganda and conspiracy theories masquerading as news. We wouldn’t have to deal with wild goose chases for presidential birth certificates or claims that snowballs disprove the scientific evidence of Climate Change. Mentions of Sarah Palin and Donald Trump would produce confused looks and replies of “Who?” And the Tea Party would still be a gathering of folks who appreciate brewed herbs and pastries.
This past weekend marked the 50th anniversary of one of the most iconic events in America’s history. In 1965 hundreds of protesters organized a march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama to demand an end to the institutional racism that kept African Americans from exercising their right to vote. The marchers were met on the Edmund Pettus Bridge by state troopers who beat them with nightsticks, trampled them horses, assaulted them with water cannons, and left many of the peaceful marchers severely injured.
John Lewis, now a U.S. congressman, was among those who suffered at the hands of the segregationist southern establishment. The televised images of the brutality directed at the marchers played a significant role in elevating the civil rights crisis to a national priority.
So how did Fox News choose to cover this historic commemorative occasion? This morning on Fox & Friends the Kurvy Kouch Potatoes devoted the whole of their Selma segment to complaining about a photo that appeared in the New York Times. Later, the ladies of “Outnumbered” did the same thing. The photo in question was of President Obama walking arm-in-arm with some of the figures who participated in the original march fifty years ago, including Rep. Lewis. But the Fox crew completely ignored the cultural importance of the event in order to play out their obsession with being victims of the “liberal” media.
Dispensing with any discussion of the state of civil rights in the intervening years, Fox focused on their allegation that former president George W. Bush had been deliberately cropped out of the photo that appeared in the New York Times. To them this was further evidence of how the liberal media distorts the news and robs conservatives of their rightful place as champions of civil rights.
There are two small problems with that characterization. First, the Times did not crop the photo at all. They printed the entire photo that had been supplied to them. The photographer had quite reasonably framed the photo to put President Obama in the center, thus missing Bush who was far off to the side. Other photos were taken of the event that show Bush, however, in order to reveal the whole front line of the march, the picture would have either consumed the entire width of the paper or been reduced so that no one could have been recognized.
The second problem is that the notion that Bush is an indispensable component of any photo of a civil rights march is ludicrous. In his eight years as president, Bush attended only one of the annual meetings of the NAACP. His Justice Department investigated the organization with an aim to remove its tax-exempt status. He opposed affirmative action and other legislative remedies to racism. And he appointed Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts who wrote the majority opinion striking down provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that was a direct result of the original march in Selma.
Why the Fox regulars regard Bush as being entitled to a place of honor at this march is a mystery. But even worse is the fact that they would feature this phony assertion of liberal media bias to the exclusion of any substantive reporting on the issues that led to the march in 1965 and the importance of its 50th anniversary this weekend.
This is typical of Fox’s perverse editorial stance on civil rights issues. On their Fox News Sunday program they hosted Kimberly Strassel of the Wall Street Journal (another brick in Rupert Murdoch’s media empire) who complained that Obama called for renewal of the Voting Rights Act. Just to be clear, she was against talking about voting rights in a speech commemorating an historic march for voting rights. Also notable is that Fox News failed to mention that not a single member of the current leadership in Congress attended the anniversary event in Selma.
And yet, Fox found time on multiple programs to gripe about a non-story concerning the cropping of a photo that never happened. That’s what Fox regards as newsworthy. And everybody knows that civil rights begin with exalting white Republicans who never did a damn thing to advance them.
This morning on CNN’s “Reliable Sources” host Brian Stelter interviewed the former host of the Fox News program “News Watch.” That program was canceled in 2008 and its host, Eric Burns, was fired. It’s replacement, “MediaBuzz,” is now led by a more reliable hack, Howard Kurtz, who isn’t troubled by having to peddle the partisan garbage that Fox spews.
On Reliable Sources, Stelter raised the ever-expanding controversy over Bill O’Reilly’s diuretic flow of lies about his past adventures as a news superhero. Stelter opened with with statements from the order of nuns who lost four of their members to death squads in El Salvador. They were disturbed by O’Reilly’s false assertion that he had personally witnessed the executions. O’Reilly later admitted that he had only seen photographs, but failed to apologize or even acknowledge that his prior claims were false.
At the top of the interview segment, Burns told Stelter that he had experienced the extraordinary effect of the audience loyalty at Fox News, saying that “The people who watch Fox News are cultish.” [a condition that News Corpse documented a few months ago] and that “O’Reilly, as the head of the cult, is not held to the same standards as Brian Williams. Burns went on to give credit to MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann who had frequently pointed out O’Reilly’s predilection for lying, with evidence proving it. Then Stelter asked Burns to comment on the shift by Fox News to ever more right-wing slanted programming. Burns said that…
“I thought that as Fox got more and more popular that Roger Ailes, who runs the network, would say ‘Well, the right has nowhere else to go, so if I move a little more to the center I can get a bigger audience and not lose my core audience.’ He did just the opposite. He went more to the right.”
It’s important to note that Burns hosted a program that was already severely slanted to the right. He had four panelists that included a single “liberal,” pretty much setting the model for every other panel on Fox (i.e. MediaBuzz, The Five, Special Report, Cashin In, Fox News Sunday, etc.). So Burns is no progressive mole. However, he was astute enough to recognize the downside of being associated with Fox News and replied to inquiries after his departure by expressing relief that…
“I do not have to face the ethical problem of sharing an employer with Glenn Beck.”
On Fox’s MediaBuzz this morning, host Kurtz completely ignored the O’Reilly affair, choosing instead to focus on negative stories about Hillary Clinton’s email, Obama’s speech in Selma, AL, and Netanyahu’s speech before Congress. Throw in a suck-up profile of Rand Paul and all of the criticisms expressed by Burns begin to be obvious. But don’t tell that to the cult members who watch Fox. They threaten to throw another Tea Party.
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 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 that 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?