Myth vs. Reality: Reagan vs. Obama On Planes Being Shot Down

The compulsion of right-wing politicians and pundits to reflexively denigrate President Obama is once again outstripping their devotion to country or respect for the truth. It is uncanny how predictable it is that conservative blowhards will leap at the opportunity to bash the President, even as events of critical significance to our national security are still unfolding.

Reagan vs. Obama

That is the case as information continues to be uncovered concerning the shooting down of Malaysian flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine. Some of the more obscenely irresponsible comments come from the usual suspects, such as…

John McCain: I don’t understand this president … this is what we used to call in the military AWOL. There’s a direct loss of American lives here.
Rush Limbaugh: I don’t want appear to be callous here, folks, but you talk about an opportunity to abandon the Obama news at the border?
Todd Starnes: Obama won’t comment on Malaysian jetliner crash until he’s had a chance to read tomorrow’s paper.

On Fox News there has been a specific effort to compare the response of President Obama to that of President Reagan following the shooting down of a Korean jet on September 1, 1983. Of course the Fox position is that St. Reagan acted quickly and boldly to assert America’s outrage and leadership. However, an examination of the facts present a very different picture.

The gist of the criticism hurled at Obama was that his reaction was too timid, too slow, and tainted by his decision to keep his previous obligations with meetings on his schedule. The evidence provided to illustrate the differences between Obama and Reagan was a video of an Oval Office address by Reagan regarding the Korean jet disaster.

The first notable fact that was undisclosed by the right-wing nags is that Reagan’s Oval Office address came five days after the Korean jet was shot down. The Malaysian jet was downed only yesterday but, according to his critics, that is still too long for Obama to have waited to comment. As for the video itself, the depth of Reagan’s outrage extended to his declaration that the attack was a “crime against humanity [that] must never be forgotten” and that the Russians “owe the world an apology.” That’s telling ‘em, Gipper. Make them say they are sorry.

Compare that to Obama’s initial remarks that stated that the attack was “An outrage of unspeakable proportions,” and included a challenge to Russian President Vladimir Putin to make a decision whether to continue to support violent separatists.

Obama: Time and again, Russia has refused to take the concrete steps necessary to deescalate the situation. [...] We have been very clear from the outset that we want Russia to take the path that would result in peace in Ukraine, but so far at least, Russia has failed to take that path. Instead, it has continued to violate Ukrainian sovereignty and to support violent separatists.

There you have it. Obama laid the blame squarely at Putin’s feet and reiterated his demand that Russia take concrete steps to deescalate. Additionally, Obama called for an immediate cease-fire and an end to Russia’s provision of weapons and training to the separatists. It is an unarguably more aggressive first-response than Reagan’s, but he didn’t ask Putin to apologize so he must be weak.

Fox News and other conservative outlets have also been criticizing Obama for not canceling a couple of previously scheduled fundraising events. But there are some very good reasons for not doing so. First of all, the United States president should not be seen as being so easy to manipulate that an isolated terrorist act, not directed at the U.S., can force him to alter his plans. We are not, and must not be, at the mercy of the terrorists. Secondly, the President made an obligation to the people that organized and attended the events and he should honor that unless his presence would prevent him from taking necessary actions elsewhere, which was not the case.

Furthermore, those making the Obama/Reagan comparison also failed to note that Reagan himself jaunted off to fundraising events shortly following the Korean jet attack. On September 14 he helped raise funds for the Republican National Hispanic Assembly. On September 20 he helped fill the coffers of South Carolina Senator Strom Thurmond. On September 27 it was a dinner for the Republican Majority Fund. Apparently it’s OK for St. Ronnie to engage in financial glad-handing after an international incident, but not a malingerer like Obama. For the record, less than a month after Reagan’s tour of GOP fundraisers, terrorists blew up the military barracks in Beirut killing 250 Marines. Can we say he was really on the job? Maybe Darrell Issa should open an investigation into that.

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Perhaps the most peculiar change in the right-wing media due to the Malaysian jet attack is that it has soured the right on their former hero, Vladimir Putin. For months pundits at Fox News and elsewhere were singing the praises of Putin as the model of strength, leadership, and Christian purity. Folks like Ben Carson and Sarah Palin expressed their glowing admiration. There was even a featured article on Fox News that asserted that “Putin Is The One Who Really Deserves That Nobel Peace Prize.”

At this point it’s hard to tell who the right admires more: Reagan or Putin. But it’s clear that they have a visceral hatred for our current president. You know, the one who is charged with leading the nation right now, and for whom patriotism would ordinarily compel conservatives to support in troubled times. But for some reason, right-wingers have chosen to disparage their president at every turn and before they even have facts to form a credible opinion. Not that they ever cared about facts. For them it’s shoot first and ignore the facts later. God Bless America.

So F**king What? Fox News Freaks Out Over American Muslims Support For Obama

A new Gallup poll surveyed the job approval rating for President Obama broken down by various religious groups. It’s a mildly interesting batch of data candy for polling nerds to suck on when they’re bored. The overall results average out to about the same level of approval (43%) registered in most other recent surveys. But leave it to the panic-peddlers at Fox to find something worthy of acute hyperventilation.

Fox Nation Poll

The numbers that sent Fox into a tizzy were those that put Muslim approval of Obama’s job performance at 72%. In their defective minds that surely means that Al Qaeda is pleased with the President’s performance in office and they are not ashamed to admit it. To make sure that their block-headed audience didn’t miss the point, Fox illustrated the article with a photo of Obama “bowing” down to his Arab master.

Everything about this posting is designed to stimulate the already excited racism follicles that cover the Fox viewer like an invisible furry hate-detector. But a cursory analysis reveals that there is nothing worrisome or surprising about the results in this poll.

First of all, the respondents in this survey are all Americans. They are not Islamic extremists in unfriendly Middle Eastern nations looking to the U.S. president for inspiration. They are not members of the Muslim Brotherhood seeking to form an Islamic Caliphate with Obama as their Supreme Leader. They are certainly not terrorists, unless the Gallup organization has partnered with Al Qaeda sleeper cells to find participants for their survey operations.

Secondly, who do you think American Muslims would be most inclined to support? Would it be Republicans who regard all of them as potential suicide bombers; who oppose the construction of new mosques and advocate surreptitious surveillance of existing ones; who push for racially profiling people with dark-skin and full beards? Muslims, like every other minority in America, recognize that Democrats are the tolerant party that believes in equality and values diversity. Obviously Obama is going to benefit from that in polling.

Furthermore, the not-so-subtle inference that broad support among Muslims indicates an affinity for Islamic extremists is ludicrous. After all, Obama is the man that executed Osama Bin Laden. There is no one on the planet who is responsible for the demise of more high-ranking terrorists than our current president. If the Muslim respondents in this survey were aligned with terrorism they surely would not be expressing support for Obama. And for a little contrast, Jews also gave Obama a resounding vote of confidence with a 55% majority approval rating.

Returning to the photo that Fox deliberately chose in order to fan the flames of bigotry, it should be noted that they had to reach back to June of 2009 to find a scary Muslim pictured with Obama. The other figure in the photo is the Saudi Arabian King Abdullah, a key American ally. He is awarding Obama the King Abdul Aziz Order of Merit, the highest honor that the Saudis can give to a foreign dignitary. And, yes, Obama is lowering his head so that the King can put the award around his neck.

bush-king-abdullahThis is precisely the way the ceremony was conducted in January of 2008, when George W. Bush received the same award (IOKIYAR). Of course, none of this is revealed by the myth-makers at Fox News who, by the way, are partially owned by the Muslim Saudi Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal, the second largest shareholder in the corporation after the Murdoch family.

The comments by readers of this article at Fox Nation provide clear evidence that Fox is achieving their goal of stirring the racist pot. So we’ll leave you with a few of those thoughts that so perfectly sum up the Fox mind set. If you want a collection of more than 50 documented examples of Fox Nation blatantly lying, be sure to check out our ebook, Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Community’s Assault On Truth. It’s educational, entertaining, frustrating, humorous, and downright scary. You’ll love it.

Fox Nation Comments

The ObamaCare Success Story: Even Republican Enrollees Are Overwhelmingly Satisfied (InfoGraphic)

It has been four months since the open enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare) closed, and the most reliable numbers to date are being released. A new survey by The Commonwealth Fund (pdf) reveals that the program has surpassed all estimates of success and is broadly viewed favorably by the American people. Here are some of the highlights of the survey (InfoGraphic below):

  • With 9.5 million fewer uninsured adults, the uninsured rate for those 19-64 decline from 20% to 15%.
  • The uninsured rate for young adults 19 to 34 declined from 28% to 18%, more than any other age group.
  • In the 25 states (and D.C.) that expanded their Medicaid programs, the uninsured rate for low-income adults declined from 28% to 17% (Texas and Florida – neither of which expanded Medicaid – have the highest uninsured rates).
  • More than half of adults with new coverage said their plan included all or some of the doctors they wanted.
  • More than three of five adults who selected a private plan or enrolled in medicaid were uninsured prior to gaining coverage.
  • Two-thirds of those who found a primary care doctor got an appointment within two weeks.
  • More than three-quarters of adults with new coverage said they were very or somewhat satisfied with it (Including 74% of Republicans, 82% of Independents, and 84% of Democrats.

The fact that so many Americans have benefited from this health insurance initiative is in itself good news. But what should make this front page news is that Republicans enrolled in ObamaCare are just as happy with it as independents and Democrats. This illustrates how far afield the Tea Party Republican political miscreants in Washington have strayed from their own alleged constituents. They are impostors holding the reins of power thanks to a minority of extremists in the party who bother to vote. And if rank and file Republicans ever get motivated to show up at the polls, people like Ted Cruz and Michele Bachmann will be lucky to get speaking engagements at trailer-park bible study meetings.

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After enduring the GOP spending four years throwing every mud-soaked brick they could find at ObamaCare, the people have risen above the scare tactics and lies. They rejected the talk of death panels and socialism and economic catastrophe. They saw through the dozens of attempts to repeal the law or challenge it in the courts. And now that they have had a chance to assess it personally, they find that it satisfactorily meets their needs, particularly those who couldn’t get coverage before due to preexisting conditions or financial hardship.

Don’t expect any of this to be reported on Fox News or by any other right-wing media garbage spewer. These are credible results from a respected foundation. They deal with facts and a devotion to representing reality (which, as we know, has a well-known liberal bias). Those are principles that conservative media tries desperately to avoid. If information cannot be used by the right to tarnish the President or progressive causes, it is either ignored or disparaged.

But despite the herculean effort put forth by Fox News, the Koch brothers, and the GOP establishment, the people have made up their own minds. Now if we can just get them to show up at the polls in November and vote for their own best interests, we may be able to roll back the tide of Dark Agist theocons who have infiltrated the halls of our democracy.

ObamaCare Success

Curmudgeon Watch: Bill O’Reilly Wags His Finger At Jon Stewart’s Daily Show

Pandering to his geriatric demographic, Bill O’Reilly of Fox News devoted his lead segments to concern-trolling the welfare of Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert. The theme of his Talking Points Memo was whether or not the Comedy Central duo would have to “change their tone” now that “things are not going very well for the Obama administration.”

Bill O'Reilly

O’Reilly opened by asserting that Stewart and Colbert are unrepentant liberals who are committed exclusively to attacking conservatives and promoting President Obama:

O’Reilly: Here’s the problem with these guys. They prop up the Democratic Party and the liberal line, President Obama, by denigrating the opposition, the Republican Party, conservative people. That’s what they do. That’s how they function on a daily basis over there. Does it get more difficult to do that when the President and the party, the Democratic Party, are descending in the court of public opinion?

First of all, O’Reilly’s logic that Republicans cannot be satirized if Obama’s approval ratings decline is ludicrous on its face. If popularity, or the lack of it, is the driving factor as to whether a potential target of satire will be selected by a comedian, then it’s the Republican Party that can breathe a sigh of relief, because no matter how badly the President is doing, he’s miles ahead of the GOP.

But more to the point, O’Reilly is absolutely wrong in his assessment that Stewart props up Democrats and lives to denigrate the right. Apparently he doesn’t watch The Daily Show or even read Fox Nation (which is edited by his own producer, Jesse Watters). Over at the Fox Nation Lie-Fest they have published dozens of articles heaping praise on Stewart for either “destroying, tearing apart, eviscerating, or grilling” Obama and other liberals (see this list here). And if that weren’t enough, they also highlighted the many times Stewart “mocked, roasted, savaged, scorched, ridiculed, and obliterated” the President and his lefty allies (see this list here).

So where does O’Reilly get the idea that Stewart is propping up liberals? Like almost everything else that O’Reilly (and Fox News) spews, it is made up from whole cloth to advance the conservative agenda. But O’Reilly has his sycophantic guests that appear mainly to agree with him. On this program it was Fox News media correspondent, Howard Kurtz, who declared that Stewart and Colbert are now “out of the zeitgeist” due to their alleged failure to criticize the President. And who knows more about the zeitgeist than Kurtz?

However, Kurtz doesn’t seem to be paying any attention to Fox’s reporting either. That’s pretty damning for the person on the Fox roster whose job is specifically the media. Kurtz criticized Stewart’s coverage of the IRS affair because it contained “nothing about a cover up. He glossed over President Obama’s role.” Kurtz must have missed the fact that there is zero evidence of a cover up or any role by the President. That may have something to do with why Stewart left it out.

When Kurtz’s co-host on Fox’s MediaBuzz, Lauren Ashburn, chirped in to disagree with O’Reilly, she was immediately interrupted so that O’Reilly could ridicule her viewpoint and segue to insulting Stewart’s audience as San Francisco liberals smoking pot. That’s actually a reprise of an insult he flung a couple of years ago when Stewart was a guest on his show. At that time O’Reilly slammed the Daily Show audience (which is documented as being younger, smarter, and more successful than O’Reilly’s) by saying…

“You know what’s really frightening? You actually have an influence on this presidential election. That is scary, but it’s true. You’ve got stoned slackers watching your dopey show every night and they can vote.”

If that’s scary, then how much more frightening is it that the imbeciles who watch O’Reilly, and believe the fairy tales he spins, can vote (or buy guns, or operate cars and other heavy machinery)? O’Reilly concluded by thoughtfully worrying about Stewart and Colbert losing their audience since “they are going to have a harder time pleasing them with the collapse of the liberal establishment.” O’Reilly may have buried the lede in this program. Up until now, most people were probably unaware that the liberal establishment had collapsed. That should have been his headline. Of course, it’s just as phony as everything else he says, but why should that matter to the biggest phony on the phoniest network?

ISSA HYPOCRISY: Lost IRS Emails vs. Lost Bush White House Emails – Part 2

Last week News Corpse published a story detailing the hypocrisy of Fox News for hyperventilating over allegations of lost emails by the IRS when they said nothing about millions of lost emails by the Bush White House during investigations of improper firings of U.S. Attorneys and the outing of covert CIA agent Valerie Plame. Even worse, one of those bashing the the Obama administration was Fox News host Dana Perino who, at the time of the Bush email affair, was Bush’s press secretary and personally defended losing the emails.

Now the web of hypocrisy is growing even wider. Darrell Issa, chairman of the House Fake Scandal Committee, has been leading the attack on President Obama over the missing IRS emails, despite the fact that there is not a shred of evidence that the President was in any way involved with the email or the broader IRS controversy over the scrutiny given to political groups applying for tax-exempt status. Issa recently convened a hearing specifically to investigate the lost emails and declaring that the administration has “some ‘splainin’ to do.”

Darrell Issa Hypocrisy

It’s rather amusing that Issa is taking such a hard-line stance on the matter since it is such a distant position from the one he held in 2008, when he sought to dismiss any notion of scandal by blaming the computer software used to archive the email. Mother Jones reported at the time that Issa…

“…did his best to play down the extent of the Bush administration’s now well-documented email archiving problems. Defending the White House’s decision to switch from the Lotus Notes-based archiving system used by the Clinton administration, Issa compared the the software to “using wooden wagon wheels” and Sony Betamax tapes.”

Issa accused then-committee chair Henry Waxman of leading a “fishing expedition” and telling Waxman that “You have no mandate to go Peeping Tom into every piece of information.” Considering Issa’s multiple investigations into the IRS, ObamaCare, immigration, and, of course, Benghazi, if Waxman was a Peeping Tom, then Issa is an acutely perverted stalker with dangerously sociopathic tendencies.

In other IRS email related news, Ed Henry of Fox News raised the issue at a White House press briefing when he asked outgoing press secretary Jay Carney “What happened to Lois Lerner’s email?” Carney’s answer should be the benchmark for any further inquiries by Issa or any other agent of the Republican inquisition. Carney said

“IT professionals worked to restore Lerner’s hard drive but were unable to do so. Nonetheless, the IRS has or will produce 24,000 Lerner e-mails from this 2009-2011 time period largely from the files of the other 82 individuals. So I think that answers your question that they are engaging in an effort to find e-mails in the absence of being able to restore the hard drive. [...]

“Chairman Camp, as you know, requested e-mails to and from the White House. We were asked if we would produce them; we did, in fact, do a search for all communications between Lois Lerner and any person within the Executive Office of the President for this period. We found zero e-mails — sorry to disappoint — between Lois Lerner and anyone within the EOP during this period. We found three e-mails where a third party e-mailed both Lois Lerner and officials within the EOP. One was a spam e-mail and two others were from a person seeking tax assistance. Each of these e-mails has been produced to Congress.”

So the administration has taken extraordinary measures to retrieve the missing emails. They have searched servers and the computers of possible recipients. They have done everything that the harpies on the right have been badgering them to do. And they have had some measure of success in that they recovered and delivered tens of thousands of emails from the time period requested. What more is expected of them?

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Obviously, the critics in congress and the press don’t really care about results. They only care about stirring up controversy and fake outrage. That’s how Dana Perino can defend her boss, George Bush, for losing millions of emails and then hammer the IRS for a similar problem. And that’s how Darrell Issa can dismiss Bush’s email disappearances as a computer glitch, but accuse Obama of engaging in a criminal cover up. And the only reason they get away with it is because the media doesn’t do their homework and inform the public in a fair and thorough manner. And making it worse is that some in the media (e.g. Fox News) deliberately misinform the public to advance their partisan agenda.

GOPee Yew: What The Media Isn’t Telling You About Obama’s Poll Numbers

A new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll (pdf) has some decidedly bad news for President Obama. The American people, according to this survey, are losing patience with the President and expressing it with low opinions of his job performance, foreign policy, and leadership. It is a distinct concern for him as his administration heads into its final two years.

That said, the news isn’t all bad. But far be it for the media to put the results in context so that people get a balanced perspective of the nation’s mood. In addition to the floundering numbers, there are some areas that ought to produce some optimism for the President and those aligned with his policies. First among them is the fact that, while Obama’s numbers are nothing to write home about, his political rivals are doing so much worse that may want to run away from home.

NBC/Wall Street Journal Poll

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Both the President and his party are putting the Republicans to shame. He is 30% more popular than the Republican Party, and nearly 50% more popular than the laughably inane Tea Party. If his presidency is over, as some right-wing pundits are gleefully claiming, what does that mean for conservatives?

And that’s not all. When asked which party they prefer to control Congress, respondents chose Democrats over Republicans by 45% to 43%. The poll also reports that progressive positions on prominent issues are far more popular than those of conservatives. For instance, respondents support the Common Core education initiative 59/31. They believe that immigration helps rather than hurts the nation 47/42. They advocate action on climate change 61/37. They approve of Obama’s recent move to set strict carbon dioxide emission limits 67/29.

Clearly the electorate is in a bad mood, and they are taking it out, with justification, on their representatives. But when directly asked about solutions to the problems that affect them most, they consistently respond with agreement for the liberal agenda.

So why doesn’t the press report that? This is the so-called “liberal” media we’re talking about. Apparently they are not as driven by partisanship as right-wingers would have you believe with all of their childish carping. More likely the media is driven by ratings and revenue. In that regard, conflict and drama have always been a bigger draw than harmony. It’s the same reason that local news features murders and car chases, rather than more uplifting stories.

Obama has some work to do to counteract the effect of the relentlessly negative coverage he receives. Even the arrest of a suspect in the Benghazi attack drew absurd criticisms from Fox News and other wingnut media. But in the interim, it is important to look below the surface to see the whole story. And what this survey is telling us is that if Democrats run on progressive policies they are more likely to achieve success at the polls later this year and in 2016.

Obama Captures Suspect In Benghazi Attack To Distract From Benghazi

You might think that today’s news that a suspect in the Benghazi terrorist attack was captured in Libya would be greeted with satisfaction and relief. You would be right with respect to the reaction of the American people, but over at Fox News it’s a different story.

As usual, nothing that Obama does can be characterized positively at Fox News. They work studiously to maintain their warped view that Obama is a foreign-born, anti-American, terrorist-sympathizing, incompetent, evil genius. And so it is with the apprehension of Ansar al-Sharia commander Ahmed Abu Khattala.

Fox News

Within seconds of the report, Kennedy, co-hosting today on Outnumbered, launched into a paranoid rant infused with suspicion and conspiracy that dismissed the arrest as a political stunt (video below). Following an absurdly presumptive statement by Fox News analyst Pete Hegseth, who asserted that “we all have questions about the timing.” Kennedy offered a thinly veiled swipe at Hillary Clinton:

Kennedy: “You have the former secretary of state, who is in the middle of a really high-profile book tour, and I think this is convenient for her to shift the talking points from some of the things that she’s been discussing.”

Hegseth agreed and added that the administration had some sort of motivation to execute this mission today, again slyly referencing Clinton. And for some reason they all seem to be afraid to say her name as if saying it three times might cause her to appear in the studio. (Beetlejuice. Beetlejuice. Beetleju…)

Hegseth: “I think this thing needs to be tied in a bow for certain individuals to have a clean break from an incident that has become, and will continue to be a scandal — an anchor around a certain individual’s neck, who may want to run for president.

Kimberly Guilfoyle picked up on the theme and added that “She’s having an interview today on Fox News.” That clinched it for Hegseth who, appearing quite pleased with himself, laid out the reasoning for this dastardly plot:

Hegseth: “What a great thing to announce on an interview tonight at Fox News, that the perpetrators have been brought to justice. It’s all too neat, and it’s too cute.”

Exactly! The impulse to bring to justice someone who was responsible for the deaths of Americans had to be inspired by a desire to create something to talk about in a TV interview. Because otherwise there would have been nothing to talk about except the newly published book that was the whole reason for the interview. Surely Clinton didn’t want that to come up.

It’s ludicrous in the first place to suggest that Obama contrived the timing of this capture to help Clinton. The timing isn’t all that helpful to her being two years before a presidential race for which she hasn’t even announced her candidacy. Then, of course, why wouldn’t he have timed it to help himself when the health care rollout was floundering? Or when the IRS was accused of targeting the Tea Party? Or when the Veterans Administration affair erupted? Let’s face it, no matter when this terrorist was apprehended something else would be going on somewhere in the world that conservative nutcases could claim it was a distraction from. And they would have.

The shockingly obvious determination to turn this good news into an evil scheme is typical of Fox News to the point of being cliche. They have made it their mission to defame this president, and all liberals, from their inception. And the uniformity of thought suggests that they were given orders to present this news in the twisted manner that they did. And the fact that they conspicuously avoided uttering Hillary Clinton’s name even once in the segment, despite making her the single subject of their conversation, it is likely they were forbidden to do so by Roger Ailes or their other handlers.

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This isn’t the first time they have done this sort of thing. They similarly attributed ulterior motives to the killing of Osama Bin Laden, which many wingnuts saw as an attempt to distract from his “fake” birth certificate. And they assigned a half dozen different news events as alleged distractions from the travails of the ObamaCare launch (although now that it’s a success, it is Fox that is playing the distraction game).

So you can bet on it. Before too long somebody is going to accuse Obama of orchestrating the capture of this Benghazi terrorist as an attempt to distract from Benghazi. More times than I can count, these delusional rightists have proven that their reality is funnier, and more far-fetched, than any satire that I can concoct.

[UPDATE:] The New York Times is now reporting that Khattala “was moved to attack the diplomatic mission to take revenge for an insult to Islam in an American-made online video.” Which means that everything that Obama, Clinton, and Rice (and the whole intelligence community) said in the initial stages of the attack was true. Which means that one of Fox’s most desperate lines of attack is shredded. Whatever will they say now? (Don’t worry. They will ignore this detail and continue to make up whatever they want, just like they always do.)

FOX NEWS HYPOCRISY: Lost IRS Emails vs. Lost Bush White House Emails

On Friday the IRS reported to the House Ways and Means Committee that some email from the account of Lois Lerner, director of the Exempt Organizations division, were missing due to a computer crash that occurred in 2011. That morsel of news set the conservative media to salivating with hopes of a new controversy to wrap around the neck of the Obama administration. Never mind that after a year of congressional hearings, independent investigations, and media scrutiny, there has not been an iota of evidence tying any of the IRS activities to the White House, right-wing pundits and politicians scurried to spread innuendo and place blame.

Leading the pack, as usual, was Fox News. They pounced on the missing email story with a barely disguised glee, despite the fact that they had little information to report. However, they did succeed at what they do best: spewing outrage over alleged improprieties by President Obama that they cavalierly dismissed during the Bush years.

Fox News

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To be sure, it is reasonable to be concerned, even suspicious, when government agencies announce that data critical to ongoing investigations is unavailable. But when a media enterprise pretends to exhibit such concern for blatantly political purposes, it can hardly be regarded as credible. What’s missing in Fox’s reporting is the context that would put this story into perspective. Their reporting went straight for the jugular with premature conclusions of wrongdoing and dishonesty. The story was presented as an outrageous and unprecedented act of probable criminality.

Flashback to April of 2007. The Bush administration was in the midst of dual scandals regarding: 1) the outing of Valerie Plame, a covert CIA agent whose identity was deliberately compromised as payback for her husband’s criticism of the Bush lies that led to the invasion of Iraq, and 2) the unethical firing of eight federal attorneys for politically ideological reasons. Additionally, there were questions about Karl Rove improperly using a Republican National Committee e-mail account that the White House later said disappeared. While Congress was investigating these activities, the White House announced that two years of emails were lost and unavailable to the committees of jurisdiction.

Hmmm. Sound familiar? In fact, it is identical to the story now being pushed by Fox. However, Fox News never blew a gasket over the lost emails from the Bush administration. Dana Perino, a co-host of the Fox News program The Five, was among those expressing outrage on Friday when the news of the missing IRS emails was released. She and her fellow co-hosts lit into the topic, bemoaning the administration’s “ignorance” and “incompetence.” And without any proof whatsoever, they implied that the administration was lying and covering up.

What makes this even worse is that Perino was Bush’s press secretary when it was revealed that two years of White House emails were lost. This, of course, cannot be waived off as an isolated problem that occurred at another agency. This was the White House itself that lost emails that were presently being requested by investigators. And it was Perino who came to the defense. Here she is downplaying the matter in a report on CNN by Ed Henry (now at Fox News):

Here is Perino & Co. aghast at the revelation that IRS emails went astray:

It is astonishing that Perino could be so rattled by the IRS email report when she herself was so intimately involved in spinning an identical controversy when she worked for Bush (Of course at Fox, she’s still working for the same gang). Either she has the memory of a gnat or she is purposefully deceiving the gullible waifs who watch Fox News. And since deception is an integral part of the Fox News mission, we can safely assume it’s the latter.

How The Media Got EVERYTHING Wrong About Cantor’s Primary Defeat

Last week a tsunami of shock washed over the Washington press corps as the second highest Republican in congress was swept overboard in a primary race against an unknown Tea Party opponent. Eric Cantor’s embarrassing loss has sparked debate as to how such a powerful GOP leader could have been caught looking. Unfortunately, the media contribution to the debate is rife with speculation and error.

Koch-Cycle Dave Brat

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First off all, the characterization of Cantor’s opponent, Dave Brat, as an outsider who sprung from the grassroots to slay Goliath is a reflection of the shallowness of the research conducted by the mainstream media. Thom Hartmann went deeper and discovered that Brat was on the radar of the billionaire Koch brothers long before he launched his allegedly underdog campaign. Koch-affiliated financiers endowed Randolph-Macon College with half a million dollars to seat the Ayn Rand disciple as a trickle-down economics professor. Then, when the campaign commenced, radio talk show hosts like Laura Ingraham and Mark Levin took the baton and fervently promoted Brat’s candidacy. Ingraham and Levin are just a couple of the radio talkers who are sponsored by Koch front groups like Americans for Prosperity.

This brings us to the second point. The media repeatedly cast a spotlight on the campaign spending differential between Cantor and Brat. Cantor raised more than $5,000,000 compared to Brat’s $200,000. Many reporters latched onto the amusing anecdote that Cantor spent more on steak dinners than Brat spent in total. However, what they failed to take into consideration was the value of the airtime contributed by the likes of Ingraham, Levin, Beck, Limbaugh, Fox News, et al. It could cost a couple of hundred dollars for a thirty second spot on a high performing radio program. Extrapolate that to twenty or thirty minutes of direct advocacy by the the program’s host every day for a month or two and you could easily have exceeded Cantor’s budget for broadcast advertising.

Adding in the value of the donated airtime rips apart the third fallacy peddled in the press – that Brat’s low cost campaign disproves the contention that money makes the difference in elections. This is a target that has been in the sights of conservatives since the Citizen’s United debacle in the Supreme Court. The rush to exonerate wealthy donors of having any untoward impact on electoral outcomes was head-spinning. Every right-wing pundit with a microphone hailed the demise of the theory that cash-laden campaigns had an unfair advantage. In truth, Brat’s campaign was far richer than acknowledged due to the media support detailed above. But even if there were no other factors, a win by a single candidate in one race surely doesn’t negate the fact that in 99.99% of other races the better financed candidate prevails. If the right is so convinced that Brat’s showing proves that money doesn’t matter, I dare any of them to announce that they are halting their fundraising and capping their spending at $200,000.

Fourth: Tea Party supporters were quick to jump on Brat’s win as evidence of a Tea Party resurgence. In just about every other race this cycle, the Tea Party challenger lost to an establishment incumbent. With Brat’s resounding victory, they claim to have regained their mojo. But the only way they can make that argument is if they forget that they lost just about every other race this cycle.

Finally, the Washington set is dead certain that Brat’s triumph was due to his stance against immigration. After all, he did feature it in his campaign ads and it was a point of departure between him and Cantor. Unfortunately for those who seem to have a desperate yearning for that to be true, polling on the day of the election proved otherwise. Public Policy Polling released the survey showing that “72 percent of registered voters in Cantor’s district polled on Tuesday said they either ‘strongly’ or ‘somewhat’ support immigration reform.” And the anti-immigration forces conveniently ignore the fact that on the same day Sen. Lindsey Graham, an establishment, pro-immigration candidate, from an even more conservative state, handily dispatched a slew of Tea Partiers. More likely, the problem for Cantor was that he mustered only a 43% job performance approval, just a couple points off of his losing election results.

So Dave Brat won a peculiar contest in Virginia where he had hidden support from billionaires and an opponent who was widely disliked. Then he disappears and refuses to speak to the voters he hopes will be his constituents. It’s been three days and he hasn’t held a post election press conference. And yet the press continues to misrepresent the realities that produced the results of this election. It’s a state of affairs that proves that Cantor wasn’t the only loser last week. The voters and others who rely on the media to provide useful information and analysis also lost. But they should be used to that by now.

Fox News Has Ceased Coverage Of Las Vegas Tea Party Cop Killers

After only one day Fox News has already eliminated coverage of the Tea Party Cop Killers in Las Vegas who went on a murderous rampage Sunday. On Monday, Fox’s primetime programs (Bill O’Reilly, Megyn Kelly, and Sean Hannity) were silent on the subject except for four sentences on Kelly’s show.

On Tuesday morning’s edition of Fox & Friends, the curvy couch potatoes failed to mention Jerad Miller and his wife Amanda. Later, on Happening Now, Fox ignored the story entirely. Outnumbered also declined to report on the Millers, despite having guest co-host “doctor” Keith Ablow who has psychoanalyzed every criminal, politician, and other public figure this century (without ever examining, or even meeting, any of them).

Fox News Creed

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Fox has replaced the Sunday massacre with older stories about the Bergdahl prisoner swap, the Veterans Administration, and Hillary Clinton’s book release and presidential aspirations. The producers and editors at Fox News have never been shy about reporting acts of alleged terrorism, even before any evidence has emerged. But for this story they have refused to even refer to the crime as terrorism. There are some obvious reasons why Fox would skew their reporting and ultimately remove this story from their news coverage. And all of them represent biases that are a long-standing part of what can be called the Fox News Creed.

First of all, the perpetrators are not who Fox’s racist producers typically profile as terrorists. Rather than being brown-skinned, Muslim, foreigners, the Millers are white Christians from Indiana. So not only would it run counter to Fox’s philosophy to implicate the Millers in terrorism, it would offend their 90% white, right-wing audience.

Secondly, the issue raises concerns about access to dangerous firearms. The NRA constituency at Fox is loathe to focus on such events that make the public uncomfortable with the wild west society that is favored by the gun fetishists and right-wingers who program and watch the network. Fox avoids or downplays most stories about gun violence, but jumps on any report that they can frame as an Obama attempt to repeal the Second Amendment.

Thirdly, Fox is well known for promoting some of the very same political ideologies as the Millers. They have featured guests who advocate secession from the United States, as well as armed resistance to federal law and authorities. An example of that is the recent Cliven Bundy affair where Jerad Miller just happened to show up threatening to use “the language of violence” against representatives of the Bureau of Land Management. Fox has also hyped Republican leaders, like Texas governor Rick Perry, who have made public statements that come just short of declaring secession.

Finally, the Millers’ association with Tea Party groups is something that Fox will work vigorously to excise from the public discourse. The Millers were supporters of the biggest Koch brothers-bankrolled Tea Party organizations (Americans for Prosperity and FreedomWorks), and openly espoused their anti-government views. It was only a matter of time before people who came to rallies with signs that said “We Came Unarmed – THIS TIME,” would keep their promise of violence. Of course, Fox News also supports the same groups and views, and has been instrumental in creating and promoting the Tea Party. In fact, there would be no Tea Party without Fox News. Consequently, Fox is not going to risk alienating such a critical part of their audience.

[Breaking] Further analysis of Fox’s coverage of the Tea Party Cop Killers was interrupted as this article was being written by the breaking news of yet another school shooting, this time in Oregon. This is the sort of tragedy that Fox can latch onto (briefly) because it lacks the political context of the Millers’ case. And the sensationalism of a breaking story is something that Fox will happily exploit.

In the meantime, Fox is probably glad to have something to report other than Sunday’s domestic terrorism in Las Vegas. The last thing they want is to have to acknowledge the relationship between the Millers and the the various enterprises that Fox News has endorsed and encouraged so feverishly. The Fox News Creed is one that was embraced by the Millers and, sadly, by many other viewers who Fox has worked so hard to deceive. And now they are reaping their reward in blood.

[Update:] As Fox returned to news other than the Oregon school shooting they continued to evade the Tea Party Cop Killers. The stories they have run so far on programs by Shepard Smith and Neil Cavuto on were on immigration, Sgt. Bergdahl, the IRS with an interview of Darrell Issa (Slimeball-CA), and extended, free campaign ads/interviews of Republicans Rick Snyder (governor of Michigan) and Ed Gillespie (senate candidate in Virginia). Following those programs, The Five was almost all Hillary Clinton, and Special Report with Bret Baier led with Bergdahl and then segued to bashing Clinton. It’s easy to see their editorial prejudices, but there was nothing (i.e. bupkis) on the Las Vegas Tea Party massacre.

FLASHBACK: When A Fox News Reporter Converted To Islam And Joined The Terrorists

This week Fox News broadcast an “exclusive” report by correspondent James Rosen that asserted that Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, the American soldier held captive by the Taliban for five years, had converted to Islam and declared himself to be a jihadist. The report was widely criticized for the absence of any substantive evidence or credible confirmation. Additionally, the source for the information was a disreputable private intelligence operative who was previously indicted for lying to Congress during the Iran-Contra scandal.

None of that stopped Rosen and Fox News from airing the story of Bergdahl’s conversion as fact. Rosen appeared on numerous segments throughout the day, including in primetime with Bill O’Reilly and Greta Van Susteren. While Rosen acknowledged that Bergdahl may have pretended to convert in order to avoid further mistreatment, or that he might have been suffering from Stockholm Syndrome, in same breath he posited that Bergdahl might just as well have been an active enemy collaborator. However, other segments on the network ignored the exculpatory explanations entirely, brazenly accusing Bergdahl of treason and willful collaboration with the enemy.

It’s ironic that Fox News would permit these reports to air considering their prior experience with one of their own reporters. In August of 2006, correspondent Steve Centanni was stationed in the Middle East when he and his photographer were abducted by Palestinian terrorists. They were held for two weeks, during which time a video was released that showed them declaring their faith in Islam and making disparaging statements about the United States.

Fox News Centanni Converts To Islam

At no time following the release of the Centanni videos did Fox News report that Centanni had converted to Islam. They never accused him of treason or joining forces with terrorists. Instead, they patiently waited until he was released to hear his side of the story. When that occurred, Centanni told reporters that the conversion was “something we felt we had to do because they had the guns, and we didn’t know what the hell was going on.”

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Sadly, Bergdahl has not been afforded the same benefit of a doubt on Fox News that Centanni received. And the fact that the Centanni affair occurred at all makes Fox’s bias and hypocrisy all the worse. Centanni’s experience should have served as a lesson for Fox not to make blanket condemnations on dubious evidence before the facts are available. Fox didn’t even wait for a statement from Bergdahl before judging him guilty of a crime that is punishable by death.

It’s astonishing that there are still some people who consider Fox to be a credible news enterprise. It’s bad enough that a couple of million deluded and politically myopic viewers have been taken in, but it’s even worse that other journalists haven’t disassociated themselves from the fraudulent and un-American miscreants at Fox News.

Did Fox News Bench Shepard Smith For Telling The Truth About Bowe Bergdahl?

Last Tuesday Fox News anchor Shepard Smith delivered a remarkable commentary in support of the traditional American values of “innocence until proven guilty” and respect for our nation’s defenders in the military. It was a striking departure from the talking points belched out by pretty much everyone else on Fox that have convicted Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl as a deserter, and even worse, an enemy collaborator, without even bothering to hear his side, much less have a trial. Smith said in part that…

“If you desert or commit treason, you have to be proved to have done so. We can’t just decide because some people come on television and yakkety-yak. [...] As the Pentagon said, you bring them home first, and then you investigate.”

Fox News Shepard Smith

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These common sense thoughts should be the basis for every analysis of someone under suspicion of misbehavior, but especially so for someone who volunteered to serve in the Army during a time of war. Whether or not Bergdahl’s commitment to his platoon changed some time after he enlisted and deployed to Afghanistan is something that should be investigated, but the slanderous prejudgment that has become a mantra on Fox News is irresponsible and un-American.

The latest absurdity is that Fox is alleging that Bergdahl converted to Islam during his captivity and has joined his captors as a jihadist. It apparently never entered the abnormally diminutive minds of Fox News that Bergadahl might have been coerced, or he might have been faking it to avoid further mistreatment, or even that he might be suffering from Stockholm syndrome. In Fox’s world he is simply a traitor and no substantive evidence is required to convict him.

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Media Matters has put together this video that juxtaposes Smith’s commentary with the persistent blathering of his Fox News colleagues. It’s a revealing presentation that shows just how far Fox has stepped over the ledge of reason.

It is that tendency to wander off the ranch that likely resulted in Smith being demoted from his previous primetime slot to his current midday time period at 3:00 pm. And curiously, today Smith was not on the air at all. Filling in for him was the more reliably right-wing Harris Faulkner. Is Smith being silenced and/or punished for his independence? Time will tell.

Faux Outrage From Fox News Ignores GOP Role In Veterans Administration Scandal

The news that Veterans Administration facilities in Arizona were allegedly falsifying records to hide extensive backlogs in patient care has roiled both Democrats and Republicans in Washington. If the allegations are proven, this would be a monumental abdication of the government’s obligations to the men and women who have sacrificed so much for their country.

Right-Wing Media Circus

Unfortunately, partisan politicians and pundits have sunk to the depths where they are most accustomed as they seek to politicize the matter. At the bottom of that list is Fox News where reporting has consumed much of the airtime they had previously reserved for their Benghazi frenzy. In the few short weeks that the VA has been in the news Fox has already attempted to assign personal blame for it on President Obama, and Republican alarmists are calling for administration scalps. That’s all before any responsible investigations have been completed that would ascertain the actual causes and the identities of those responsible. It’s straight out of the GOP attack manual: Ready…Shoot…Aim.

However, while Fox News, and the rest of the right-wing media machine, is predictably trying to indict the President for crimes for which they have no supporting evidence, real facts are being dismissed and/or ignored. Foremost among these would include inquiries into the root causes of a health care agency abandoning its primary mission. In that regard, the economic pressures on the agency would be most relevant. So let’s take a look at the recent congressional budget battles that show Republicans aggressively cutting veterans benefits and funds for the VA:

2/12/2007: The Bush administration’s budget assumes cuts to funding for veterans’ health care two years from now — even as badly wounded troops returning from Iraq could overwhelm the system.

03/21/2012: If enacted, the Ryan GOP budget would cut $11 billion from veterans spending, or 13 percent from what President Obama proposes in his own plan.

02/27/2014: U.S. Senate Republicans blocked legislation on Thursday that would have expanded federal healthcare and education programs for veterans, saying the $24 billion bill would bust the budget. [...] For example, it called for 27 new medical facilities to help a healthcare system that is strained by veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

Needless to say, these funds would have gone a long way to serving the growing veterans community. Instead, the efforts on the part of the GOP to facilitate their top legislative agenda – deficit reduction – clearly weigh on the ability of the VA to perform its core mission. And the Republicans obsession with debt far outstrips their commitment to veterans, or any other financially-challenged constituency. The same priorities were in effect when Republicans led the nation into the devastating budget sequester and the government shutdown last year:

10/10/2013: Politicians love to love veterans, but the military heroes could be suffering some major losses due to the ongoing GOP-led government shutdown.

For the record, the problems at the VA are neither new nor the fault of Democrats. As noted above, it was Republicans who have repeatedly denied scarce funding to the VA. What’s more, the delays and deficiencies have been an ongoing issue dating back at least to the beginning of the Bush administration. Documents acquired through a Freedom of Information Act request reveal that

“A database of paid claims by the VA since 2001 includes 167 in which the words ‘delay in treatment’ is used in the description. The VA paid out a total of $36.4 million to settle those claims, either voluntarily or as part of a court action.”

For some reason Fox News never complained about any of those delays during the Bush years. Nor have they acknowledged that much of the current stress on the system is due to the surge in new veterans produced by Bush’s wars. There is, of course, no excuse for falsifying records and putting veterans lives risk. However, in order to fully comprehend the problem, all of the contributing factors need to be reviewed. And conservative media is way too devoted to poisoning the public debate with unfounded attacks against the President and his administration, to honestly present a balanced portrait of the situation and the potential solutions.

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Consequently, we can expect Fox News to continue to point a bony finger of phony blame at Obama, just as they have been doing with Benghazi, the IRS, the Affordable Care Act, and a multitude of other fake scandals (ObamaCars, ObamaPhones, ObamaGolf, ObamaBirth, etc. ad nauseum). And they will exploit these inanities rather than seek real answers to real problems. Because just like the GOP, Fox is more concerned with their own parochial interests than the welfare of Americans or America.

IDIOCRACY: Fox News Is Aghast That Media Watchdog Does What Media Watchdogs Do

On CNN’s Reliable Sources this weekend, host Brian Stelter interviewed David Brock, the founder of Media Matters, to respond to an accusation made by disgraced former CBS reporter Sharyl Attkisson on last week’s program. Attkisson alleged that Media Matters might have been paid to target her for criticism. It was an irresponsible and paranoid allegation for which she offered no evidence or any details on who would have offered the payment or to whom. In effect, Attkisson demonstrated why her reporting is regarded as hackery.

In the segment on Reliable Sources (video below), Brock was asked about the nature of his business and his relationship with other media enterprises. He candidly replied that “We do work with reporters. We’re a media watchdog group.” That seems pretty obvious. It is precisely what media watchdogs are designed to do. They monitor various journalism outlets, analyze their content, and communicate their findings to the public and other members of the press. It’s a valuable service that helps to keep the media honest and accurate. But that’s not the way Fox News sees it.

Fox Nation

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In a desperate attempt to further smear an organization with which Fox is obsessed, Fox News posted an article on their Fox Nation website with the shocking disclosure that Brock “Admits to Working with Media Outlets on Stories.” That’s more of a definition than an admission. It’s perfectly acceptable for Brock to provide his reports to the media, just as it’s acceptable for the media to receive and evaluate them.

Nevertheless, the Fox Nationalists portrayed this activity as if it were criminal, saying that he “did not deny the allegations today.” Again, that’s more of a job description than an allegation. And it’s a job that is done by many organizations including some with conservative views. One of the most notable is the Media Research Center and its NewsBusters website. Run by ultra-rightist Brent Bozell, the MRC is a major source of information for the conservative media circus including Fox News. Former Fox anchor Brit Hume even lauded the MRC saying…

“I want to say a word, however, of thanks to Brent and the team at the Media Research Center [...] for the tremendous amount of material that the Media Research Center provided me for so many years when I was anchoring Special Report, I don’t know what we would’ve done without them. It was a daily buffet of material to work from, and we certainly made tremendous use of it.”

Given the close relationship between the MRC and Fox News, it is blatantly hypocritical for them to assert some sort of malfeasance on the part of Media Matters. When Fox’s primary anchor and managing editor confesses to making “tremendous use” of the MRC’s data, and not knowing what he would have done without them, it seems somewhat overblown and self-serving to criticize Media Matters for simply documenting the flagrant bias and inept inaccuracies of the conservative media.

It would not be too much of a stretch to observe the jealousy of the right who have a much harder time fabricating their fake outrages and phony controversies like the one presented here. Whereas Media Matters, sadly, has an abundance of right-wing distortions and lies to catalog. Brock may have said it best on Reliable Sources when he noted that conservative watchdogs…

“…seem to be particularly incensed about Media Matters’ relationship with the media. Maybe we’re just doing a better job than they are.”

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 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