Obama’s War On Men: Media Rattled By Women Reporters At Press Conference

President Obama held his last press conference (CSPAN video here) for 2014 on Friday. It being a volatile time in the world there were questions that reflected the many serious issues facing the nation and the world. They spanned from North Korea to Cuba to tax reform to Keystone XL to race relations. But you’ll never guess what the media focused on at the conclusion of the affair.

Fox Nation

Apparently, the breaking news that sprung out of the press conference was that Obama only called on women journalists. That fact trumped everything else that was said about the other major issues of the day. The very first comment by Gretchen Carlson of Fox News after the event ended was about the gender makeup of the questioners. She also found it curious that Obama didn’t call on any reporters in the first row where the TV network correspondents sit.

Funny, I don’t recall ever hearing anybody take note that only men asked questions in prior press conferences. Particularly back when there weren’t any women at all in the White House press corps (with the exception of Helen Thomas). But for some reason this was regarded as newsworthy and even historic.

There was a clear implication that Obama had deliberately orchestrated this in order to advance his “War on Men.” Plus, the pundit class seems to believe that women would ask less confrontational questions. That’s an opinion that also extends to the reporters sitting behind the network stars in the first row.

To be fair, it wasn’t just Fox News. Other networks and numerous print news outlets made the same observation. But what sets Fox apart are the comments on their Fox Nation website that castigate this “gender discrimination” as more proof that Obama is weak, or gay, or committed to destroying God’s natural order of white, male, Christian supremacy. And that ugliness ought to be more newsworthy than the gender scoring that the self-obsessed media is engaging in.

Jeb Bush Plans To Run For President As Drug Dealing Charges Emerge

The big news today that surprises no one is that Jeb Bush is seriously considering a run at the presidency in 2016. He says that he will launch an exploratory effort to test the waters, but that is a well known artifice that politicians commonly use to disguise or delay their true intentions. Bush has been hinting at running for some time and he is keenly aware that there will not be too many other opportunities. If he passes on 2016, and the next president serves two terms, Bush will be 70 before he could run again.

One of the reasons politicians seek to put off official announcements of candidacy is that they will begin take fire from all sides. Already the conservative wing of the GOP is lashing out against Bush. Another reason they delay announcing is that doing so brings on a whole new level of scrutiny. And Bush’s announcement has produced a perfect example of that risk. A report now circulating in conservative circles is questioning whether Bush was a drug user and dealer while attending prep school at Andover.

Jeb Bush

The allegations stem from an article written by John LeBoutillier, a former Republican congressman and currently a co-host of Fox News Channel’s Political Insiders. Under the title “The Jeb Bush Illegal Drug and Liquor Distributorship at Andover,” LeBoutillier wrote that…

“Jeb Bush and one other fellow student back then ran an illegal drug and liquor distributorship on the Andover campus. When the heat started coming down, Bush ratted out the partner to the school authorities and saved his own skin. Jeb got away with it, was never caught, never punished, graduated unscathed and went on to the University of Texas at Austin.”

If this account is true then Bush was not only engaged in unlawful activities, he was also an untrustworthy associate who will steamroll over others to avoid personal responsibility for his own conduct.

Some will say that these allegations are dredging up a distant past that holds no relevance to the present. After all, Bush went on to complete two terms as governor of Florida without any suspicion of substance consumption or commerce. But we must not forget the manner in which President Obama was harassed by wingnut critics who mined his past back to even his birth.

Conservative conspiracy theorists hatched plots that involved Obama’s parents fabricating a birth certificate to secure his U.S. citizenship. They accused him of being indoctrinated by early childhood influences from Muslim Madrassas to alleged communist subversives like Frank Marshall. They went into his college days at Columbia and Harvard to make tenuous connections between him and his lefty professors. They went totally bonkers over his attendance at the church of Rev. Jeremiah Wright. And, of course, they veritably salivated over reports of his youthful indulgence in marijuana.

If Obama’s drug use was considered an election issue by Republicans in 2008, then certainly Bush should be subjected to the same inquiries today. And as LeBoutillier noted in his article, even if the use of drugs were to be excused, Bush has been accused of trafficking, a far more serious offense. These kinds of tabloid assertions were a staple of the campaigns against Obama. But will the so-called liberal media apply the same standards to Bush?

Don’t count on it. The media is already demonstrating its hypocrisy by making a controversy out of Hillary Clinton’s wealth. They assert that due to her financial status she cannot relate to average Americans even though she was never wealthy until after leaving the White House. But they have yet to question Bush’s riches or their effect on his ability to relate, despite the fact that he was born to great wealth.

Similarly, the media is obsessed with the matter of dynasty. However, the Clinton’s hardly qualify as a dynasty since there is no multi-generational component to their public service. It is simply Bill and Hillary. But Bush is the brother and son of a president, and the grandson of a senator, and the father of an officeholder in Texas. That’s four generations of Bushes in politics. Which is more than the Kennedys. Nevertheless, the media treats the two families the same. Not even Jeb’s mother does that. She was famously quoted saying that “We’ve had enough Bushes,” when asked to comment on a prospective Jeb candidacy.

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Personally, I don’t put much stock in the charges against Bush. Even though the source is more reliable than the fruitcakes that were cooking up plots about Obama, there should be more evidence and corroboration before anyone makes decisions based on them. I am also not a fan of ancient history being exploited as a weapon against people whose current lifestyles do not exhibit any misbehavior. However, I do believe that the press should be, as they say, fair and balanced, and if they go after Democrats like Obama and Clinton, then they need to do the same to Bush and any other Republican candidate. That does not seem to be the case so far.

Video Mashup On Fox News Falsely Places Al Sharpton At Scene Of Anti-Cop Protest

The hosts of Fox & Friends went out of their way Sunday to malign civil rights leader and MSNBC host Al Sharpton. In multiple segments throughout their morning broadcast they aired videos of Sharpton at a rally in Washington, D.C. to protest the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and Eric Garner in Staten Island, New York, and other victims of police brutality.

However, in a deliberate act of journalistic deceit, they spliced those videos together with a separate event in New York City where some protesters were heard disparaging the police and chanting for “dead cops.” [Video below]

The implication by Fox was that Sharpton was leading those marchers. But the anti-cop marchers were not a part of any official program connected to the New York protest and certainly not connected to the rally in Washington where Sharpton spoke. They were described by the New York Daily News as a “breakaway group” from a much larger, and largely peaceful demonstration in Manhattan.

By editing together these unrelated videos, Fox leaves the impression that Sharpton himself was calling for the death of police officers. The Fox hosts made things worse by adding their own commentary to the same effect. Here is a sampling of the dialog from the program:

Tucker Carlson (laughing): Huh. So the first clip you heard people are saying, “We want the cops dead.” And the second you heard Al Sharpton say “We’re not against the police.”
Clayton Morris: And a lot of protesters were holding signs that said “Real thugs wear flag pins.” And Sharpton saying “We’re not anti-police?”

Co-host Anna Kooiman did note that there were 25,000 people there who feel very strongly about the cause and that “largely it was peaceful.” She added that she didn’t hear any of the anti-police chanting but acknowledged that “there are always bad apples” in large crowds. At that, Carlson expanded on his diatribe.

Carlson: What they were doing as a group is making this into a racial issue, and that’s what I object to. I don’t have any problem with a conversation about police brutality. I don’t want the police looking like Delta Force. I think that’s a real conversation I’m happy to engage in. I may agree with them. What I don’t think this is about is race. I don’t think these are examples of racism, and I think it’s totally unhelpful to make this a conversation about white vs. black. And it’s ridiculous to have it led by Al Sharpton who has zero credibility at all. He’s a hustler and, I think, a criminal.

Let’s just set aside the fact that Carlson’s characterization of Sharpton is itself racist in tone and he failed to support his reckless accusation of criminality by Sharpton. Carlson’s alleged interest in a conversation about police brutality is completely disingenuous. Prior to this becoming a national news story he never sought to initiate such a conversation. And while he may want to dismiss the racial component of the crisis, the facts show that African-American men are 21 times more likely to be shot dead by the police than white men. Ignoring these statistics makes it impossible to have an honest debate on the subject.

Next the Curvy Couch Potatoes set about to shift the discussion to another topic that better fits their prejudiced viewpoints. Like many other conservative pundits, they drift off to question why civil rights activists never address the breakdown of the family or the incidence of crime in their communities. Of course, that’s a false charge because those topics are a constant part of the dialog, but the elitist TV personalities at Fox are simply too far removed from the real world to have noticed it.

Carlson: It’s so much easier just to claim that white racism is America’s biggest problem. […] You don’t have to do anything about massive unemployment in the black community, about crime in the black community, about the destruction of the black family. Those are the real issues, but you get to ignore them when you blame it all on racism. And so it serves the purposes of a couple of people – President Obama, Al Sharpton – but it kinda shafts everyone else.

Carlson’s analysis is exactly backwards. In truth, by focusing only on unemployment or crime you get to ignore racism, which is the cause of many of the other problems faced by the black community he pretends to be so concerned about. And he makes certain not to miss the opportunity to portray the President as exploiting the race issue, because what else would a black president do?

The arrogance and condescension of these privileged TV divas is emblematic of the Fox News approach to race. They are certain that they know better than the people who are directly affected by society’s bigotry and if only those black folks would listen to them everything would get straightened out in a matter of days. And race wouldn’t have anything to do with it. But that view is unrealistic and based on their own sheltered experiences. They are demonstrating an ethic that was profoundly articulated on a sign that somehow got included in the video that Fox aired for this very segment:

Fox News Sign Blame Poor

That could not be a more perfect image to represent Fox News: “Rich people paying rich people to tell middle class people to blame poor people.” And that message is ironically sitting right above Fox’s text that blatantly lies that “Al Sharpton leads protest against police.” To be clear, the protest was NOT against police. It was against unlawful use of excessive force. It is a distinctly pro-police position to advocate on behalf of the majority of officers who are lawful, decent, protectors of all citizens. Good cops don’t want bad cops sullying their reputation.

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Viewers Are Drawn To Fox News Like Flies Are Drawn To Bullsh*t (And For The Same Reason)

The Baltimore Sun’s media critic, David Zurawik, wants very badly for his analysis to be taken seriously. But it doesn’t help to burnish his credibility when he makes frequent appearances on Fox News. His objectivity is thrown into question due to the fact that his livelihood in part relies on the network that he is supposed to be reporting on. And whatever shred of objectivity remains was just wiped away by his article pimping what he called “Fox News dominance.”

Fox News McDonalds

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The most shallow observations of the place Fox News holds in the mediasphere are those that herald its ratings as some sort of measure of quality or influence. The truth is that Fox is not the powerhouse news operation that they pretend to be. On their best showing they pull in about three million viewers, which is a pitifully small scrap of the 100 million Americans in the television audience. What’s more, those viewers are not consumers of news so much as they are disciples of a conservative theology seeking affirmation.

Nevertheless, Zurawik’s article, which was picked up by Fox, reads like the Sermon on the Fox News Mount. He begins by inventing a premise that has no basis in reality, saying that…

“Much of the media establishment seems bent on ignoring the incredible ratings success of Fox News.”

Zurawik offers nothing to substantiate that assertion. It is obvious that Fox News has been sitting atop the ratings perch for several years, and everybody knows it. For Zurawik to make this notion that Fox’s ratings are being ignored the foundation for his analysis suggests that he has some sort of ax to grind against the “media establishment” that may be ignoring him.

The big news that Zurawik claims is missing is that Fox News had a couple of ratings successes that he regards as significant. One is that Fox drew more viewers than the network newscasts on election night. That is mainly notable because it something that they almost never do. So why isn’t the news here that the networks routinely slaughter Fox News in the ratings? Zurawik doesn’t address that.

In the process of fluffing Fox, Zurawik revealed his biases by describing MSNBC as being “slavishly devoted to Obama.” However one might feel about the political leanings of MSNBC, for a critic who is writing about Fox to highlight that without also mentioning the slavish devotion of Fox to a far-right ideology is simply journalistic malpractice.

Zurawik continues to explore this fallacy by pretending to be interested in figuring out why Fox is so beloved by such an overwhelming majority of the nation. He advises the need for serious folks like us to…

“…start seriously trying to figure out how and why it has come to pass that Bret Baier and Megyn Kelly matter more to Americans on election night than Brian Williams, Scott Pelley, George Stephanopoulos, Anderson Cooper or Wolf Blitzer.

Of course, as noted above, Bret Baier and Megyn Kelly do not matter more to Americans. they only matter more to the thin slice of zealots who watch what’s on Fox no matter what it is. By far, most Americans were watching something else on election night. In fact. most Americans didn’t even bother to vote that day. Turnout was about 36%, the lowest turnout in over 70 years.

Where Zurawik really goes off the rails is when he tries to explain why fox is, in his mind, so respected.

“I think one of the reasons for this latest evolution of ratings dominance might be that Fox was a far better watchdog on the Obama White House than any other TV news organization.

So the theory here is that by challenging those in power, by taking the heat as a watchdog on behalf of the little people, Fox earned their trust. What makes this absolute nonsense is that Fox was a lapdog during the Bush administration. They were apologists for everything from his mismanagement of the economy by giving the wealthy a big tax cut, to his negligence prior to the terrorist attack on 9/11 (when he ignored an intelligence report that said “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.”), to his launching a war in Iraq that was based on lies.

The people who watch Fox were never interested in a watchdog. They were only interested in having their biases confirmed, and worse, inflamed. Zurawik apparently missed all of that. And he further demonstrated his own bias by declaring that the administration has contempt for Americans and for the truth. But if Americans were to punish anyone for having contempt for the truth, it would be Fox News.

Then Zurawik facetiously offers an alternative theory for Fox News’ success:

“Or maybe, it’s what some critics of Fox say: That those who watch the channel only want to hear one side of the story, and that’s all that Fox gives them. The implication here is that Fox viewers are stupid”

Finally, Zurawik hits on something closer to the real explanation for the one-sided popularity of Fox. It has been revealed in numerous studies that Fox News has an audience that is gravely misinformed. And that result comes from their audience having a cult-like devotion to their brand of disinformation.

In closing, Zurawik makes a disingenuous plea that we “shouldn’t let our biases blind us to the serious media criticism that demands to be done.” The buckets full of irony and gall it took for him to say that would fill a warehouse. His bias is soaking the very article that asks for this consideration. And the fact that he thinks there hasn’t already been scads of serious media criticism on this subject is further evidence of just how distant he is from reality.

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Fox News Responds To Obama’s Immigration Speech: Bitch, Bitch, Bitch

President Obama delivered his address this evening that laid out his proposals for immigration reform. His plan was a balanced collection of enhanced security measures along with the more controversial initiative to delay deportations for family members of citizens.

Obama: We Were Once Strangers Too

The President made an impassioned plea to preserve families and the values that define American character. He supported his authority to take these steps by noting that every president – Republican and Democrat – for the past half century have taken similar actions. And he prevailed upon the Congress to produce legislation that would make permanent reforms and negate entirely the need for this executive action.

And the response from the conservatives who inhabit the Fox News asylum of kneejerk negativity? Well, you can probably guess. There were four main arguments that the right-wing politicians and pundits threw back at the President, and none of them addressed the substance of the issue.

  • One: Obama is overstepping his legal authority and venturing into the realm of an unconstitutional breach of separation of powers. However, most actual legal experts (including Bush’s former Attorney General Michael Mukasey earlier today on Fox News) agree that the specific measures being implemented by Obama are within his authority to take.
  • Two: The president should have waited for Congress to act rather than “going it alone.” But by any objective analysis that would have taken longer than the President has left in office. Congress has shown a distinct disinterest in advancing this issue. There is already a bill that was passed by the Senate on a bipartisan basis that would pass tomorrow in the House if Speaker John Boehner would allow a vote. Don’t hold your breath.
  • Three: They wonder why Obama didn’t get a bill through Congress during the first two years of his first term when Democrats controlled the House and Senate. For the record, Democrats did not have a filibuster proof majority in the Senate for six months after the election while votes were still being counted and contested for Al Franken’s seat in Minnesota. After that there was a full agenda that included health care, recovery from a severe economic collapse, and matters involving the two wars that were still raging in Afghanistan and Iraq. And in the final analysis, it is congress that sets the agenda for what legislation will be taken up, not the President. That’s the same congress that has distinguished itself in the last six years as the least productive in history. More to the point, this has nothing whatsoever to do with the debate today. The only reason it is brought up is to distract from the issue at hand.
  • Four: The Fox contingent accused Obama of hypocrisy for saying in the past that he didn’t have the legal authority to do this, but now he is doing it anyway. However, they are badly conflating two different positions. Obama’s prior remarks correctly stated that he could not assume the authority of congress to make laws such as granting citizenship. But that isn’t what he did today. It is entirely within the President’s purview to instruct his Department of Justice on matters of prosecutorial discretion. Furthermore, it is within his authority direct the law enforcement resources of the Border Patrol and Immigration services.

The problem with Fox News and the GOP is that they complain about the President trying to move forward, but offer no solutions themselves. They allege that he is doing it solely for political purposes. So why don’t they stifle his scheme by passing a bill of their own? Not only would that deny Obama the political high ground they think he is trying to grab, it would nullify the executive action announced today that they so bitterly oppose and believe is unconstitutional. Why do they engage in evasive arguments by reaching back to the President’s earliest days in office, and even before that, to raise irrelevancies that ignore the real issue?

By refusing to act, Congress is demonstrating that all of their whining is no more than a disingenuous and partisan temper tantrum. They prove that they are more interested in having an argument than a solution. Congress has the power to set the course going forward and cast aside what they regard as a presidential power grab, but they won’t exercise it. And until they can explain why, their bitching has to be dismissed as cynical political carping and distraction.

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The Right-Wing Freakout Over An ObamaCare Advisor Is Just More Bullspit

The biggest news for the past few days in the conservative media noise machine has been the remarks of Jonathan Gruber, an M.I.T. economics professor who consulted on the drafting of the Affordable Care Act. Some enterprising wingnut found an old video where Gruber was caught making some extemporaneous, impolitic comments about the passage of the legislation. What he said was that…

“This bill was written in a tortured way to make sure the CBO [Congressional Budget Office] did not score the mandate as taxes. If CBO scored the mandate as taxes, the bill dies. So it’s written to do that. In terms of risk-rated subsidies, in a law that said healthy people are gonna pay in – if it made explicit that healthy people are gonna pay in, sick people get money – it would not have passed. Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage. And basically, call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever, but basically that was really, really critical to get anything to pass.”

There is no question that such language is damning and an irresistible lure for Republicans salivating at any opportunity to discredit the program and its authors. The problem with the subsequent and expected outcry by the right is that they have entirely misrepresented both the facts and Gruber’s role.

obamacare-conservatives-lie

Contrary to the incessant mantra, Gruber was not the “architect” of ObamaCare. He was one of many consultants to the White House and he served in the same position when Mitt Romney implemented an almost identical bill in Massachusetts. And while his words were poorly chosen, his meaning was not particularly controversial. He was merely pointing out the difficulty of persuading people who often have conflicting interests in enhanced services but an aversion to collecting the revenue necessary to pay for them.

As a result, politicians on both sides dance around the issue of taxes and benefits in order to make successful arguments. And yes, they sometimes are less than completely truthful. And yes, there are Americans who cannot process the complexities of large-scale economic programs and tax policy. So people like Gruber get frustrated by the mindset that demands cheap health insurance, but refuses to consider methods of paying for it. Then he makes ill-considered comments in a public forum stemming from that frustration that give his ideological opponents ammunition to use against him and the policy.

However, when you hear conservatives whine about President Obama or Democrats being untruthful, it is necessary to put their complaints into perspective. For most of the debate surrounding health care, the right has been brazenly dishonest. And their falsehoods were not merely verbal gaffes or misinterpretations. They were outright lies made up from thin air. When scored by PolitiFact there were at least twelve instances where conservatives received “Pants-On-Fire” designations for their patently absurd contentions, as illustrated in this handy infographic.

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Fox News

Anyone with a on open mind who researches these blatant distortions of reality will surely recognize that Gruber’s offense is far less significant than those of the right-wing Fib Factory. Particularly when you factor in that Gruber is not a spokesman for the administration or for Democrats in Congress. However, the lies by opponents of ObamaCare often came from the Republican leaders and banner carriers for their cause. That includes Fox News who is currently burning up their airwaves with condemnations of Gruber and, by extension, ObamaCare. On the Fox News community website, Fox Nation, they posted fourteen articles in one day on this subject.

Fox Nation Obsession

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It is clear that Fox has an activist agenda that is closely aligned with that of the Republican Party. And it is equally clear that they would rather flood the zone with trivialities than to engage in an honest debate about real issues. They are afraid to address the harsh realities that people face when denied access to quality, affordable health care. They would never acknowledge the people who have found renewed hope for themselves and their families since ObamaCare launched. Take for instance this example of a skeptical Republican whose mind was changed when he eventually looked at the facts. It’s just one example of untold thousands that proves that proves that there are things worse than calling people stupid. And that’s treating them that way.

Democrats And The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (For Republicans)

Let’s get this out of the way right up front: Election day 2014 sucked elephant balls. It is saddling America with a Republican senate that is notable for being unproductive and adversarial. It’s new leader is a hyper-partisan, Washington fossil whose only agenda is obstructionism. One of its new members is an Agenda 21 conspiracy nut who carries a gun to defend herself from the government she now represents. Florida and Kansas returned to office the two least popular governors in the country. And the right-wing noise machine is going to be gloating feverishly for weeks.

But the real story underlying this election is one that the media will almost certainly fail to address. Despite the election returns, America hates the Republican Party and its policies. The turnout is estimated to be about 38%. That means that the GOP victory was achieved with a majority of a little more than one-third of the electorate, or about 20%. That is not exactly a ringing endorsement of the Republican agenda.

Election Turnout 2014

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The demographic makeup of the voters this year was decidedly older and whiter. It was also more concentrated in the South which accounted for 34% of all votes. The rest of the country came in a substantial nine to twelve points lower.

Just two years ago President Obama was resoundingly reelected along with increasing the number of Democrats in both houses of Congress. The turnout then was 58%, or 53% higher than 2014. Exit polls show that both parties are underwater in voter approval, but Democrats are still favored over Republicans 44% to 40%. Exit polling also gives Obama a 41% approval rating, compared to just 13% for Congress.

On the basis of this fractured and biased sliver of the electorate, Chris Wallace of Fox News declared this morning that “The Democratic Party brand is damaged.” But further examination of the exit polls says that isn’t true. On virtually every policy question, voters sided with the Democrats. That includes ObamaCare, immigration reform, increasing the minimum wage, same-sex marriage, legalizing marijuana, abortion, and climate change. And when asked about preferences for president in 2016, Hillary Clinton is leading every GOP opponent (Clinton 42%, Jeb Bush 29%, Rand Paul 26%, Chris Christie 24%, and Rick Perry 24%).

2016 holds more bad news for Republicans and their new senate majority. The GOP will be defending 24 seats, as compared to only 10 for the Democrats. Nine of the those GOP seats are in states won by Obama in 2012. So are all of the Democratic seats. With a larger and more representative electorate it is almost a certainty that the senate will flip back to the Democrats. And with a popular and history-making candidate like Clinton that outcome is even more likely.

In the meantime, we can expect some epic battles to ensue. Although Mitch McConnell made some perfunctory remarks signalling bipartisan cooperation, his resume suggests a different course entirely. He told supporters last night that “Just because we have a two-party system doesn’t mean we have to be in perpetual conflict.” That coming from the man who presided over more filibusters than any senate in history.

But the battles will not be limited to those between the two parties. McConnell is going to experience some of the misery of John Boehner as he tries to herd the Tea Party contingent of his own party into some semblance of unity. Don’t expect Ted Cruz or Rand Paul or Mike Lee or Joni Ernst to fall obediently in line. In fact, Cruz is already announcing his intention to prosecute the President for many of the phony scandals for which the GOP-run House failed to find any wrongdoing. He told Fox News last night that…

“I hope we begin serious, systematic, sober hearings, examining executive abuse, regulatory abuse, lawlessness, abuse of power. Whether it is IRS wrongly targeting citizens or the debacle of Benghazi and four Americans who lost their lives and why more was not done to save them, or whether it’s the lawlessness that pervaded Obamacare as the president and executive branch has tried to pick and choose which laws to follow. I hope we see serious oversight on those fronts.”

That’s a path that leads to increased animosity and the “perpetual conflict” that McConnell says he hopes to avoid. But with Cruz and Paul and Rubio amongst those in his caucus who are contemplating a presidential run, can McConnell prevent them from hijacking the senate for their own purposes? And will their purposes include attempts to impeach Obama as some Republicans and conservative pundits have already advocated?

The next two years are going to be a bumpy ride for both parties and, unfortunately, the American people. There is much that we cannot anticipate at this time. What we can safely assume is that the extremist, Tea Party wing of the GOP will deliver some histrionics and hilarity. And Fox News will cover all of it as if it were sober statesmanship. So buckle up, folks. And be glad that the ride is over in only two years.

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American Spectator’s Hit Job On Veterans (And Suck Up To Fox News)

The fallout from an offensive “joke” told by Fox News host Eric Bolling has quite properly reverberated throughout the media. Bolling callously insulted jet fighter pilot, Major Maryam Al-Mansouri of the UAE Air Force, as “boobs on the ground,” even as she was putting her life at risk in combat against the ISIL terrorists. Bolling’s colleague Greg Gutfeld joined in the misogyny with a childish taunt that she wouldn’t be able to park her aircraft.

It was encouraging to see the widespread condemnation of these remarks, including from many on the right. One of the responses came from a coalition of veterans who wrote an “Open Letter to Fox News” to express their outrage and disappointment. The letter signed by sixty veterans and called on Fox News to apologize.

However, the ultra-rightist magazine American Spectator couldn’t join the responsible members of our society in recognizing the harm of the Fox News hosts’ infantile remarks. They published an article that maligned the veterans as “partisan hacks” and dismissed their justifiable rage as deceptive and self-righteous. The article, by former Reagan White House political director Jeffrey Lord, was titled “The Hit Job On Fox News,” as if the veterans concern for the welfare of soldiers in the field were nothing but a slam on a notoriously biased cable news channel.

American Spectator

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The gist of the Lord’s argument was centered on the identity of the vets who signed the letter. Lord complained that the vets were only identified by their name and the branch of service they were in. To Lord this was an opening to attack the vets as politically motivated. So he did a little research and found that some of them could be affiliated with Democratic organizations or officeholders. Oh my freakin’ Gawd, somebody call 911.

The first problem with Lord’s idiotic gripe is that it disparages the views of veterans if they have a political ideology that is different than his own. He is, in effect, dishonoring vets by dismissing them unless they agree with him. If some of those who signed the letter are in fact affiliated with Democrats that is their right. They fought for it and they are entitled to express themselves.

On a more fundamental level, Lord’s painfully trite analysis comes up far short of the conclusions he makes. There are sixty veteran signatories on the letter, but Lord only provided additional information on sixteen of them. That means that 70% of the signatories were not connected to Democrats and Lord has no idea if they are Democrats or Republicans. Nevertheless, he maligned the whole lot as partisan hacks who should be ignored. That is extraordinarily flawed logic and further indicts him as generally anti-veteran.

Lord exacerbates his anti-vet stance by actually defending against what he calls “an attack on Fox News and two of the co-hosts on the Fox show The Five — Eric Bolling and Greg Gutfeld.” Apparently Lord doesn’t believe the Fox hosts warranted the criticism they received. He goes out of his way to distract from the original offensive comments and bizarrely twist the narrative around to a conspiracy against Fox and an attack on women’s advocates. Lord says that…

“…this isn’t really about Eric Bolling or Greg Gutfeld. What this is really all about is a hardcore and on-going political effort to smear Fox News. This time as part of that ‘war on women’ business liberals need to survive politically.”

In other words, Lord wants us to forget about Bolling’s insult to soldiers and women, and turn our attention to the poor, beleaguered, defenseless, Fox News. That is, if nothing else, a creative take on the matter. But it doesn’t succeed unless the whole of the audience is as dimwitted as that of Fox itself.

The bottom line is that Lord’s position is even more insulting than Bolling’s because it encompasses all veterans, not just a single pilot, and denies them the respect they have earned. And all that Lord has done is to confirm the phoniness of the right’s alleged patriotism and support of the troops. Conservatives only adhere to those principles when it benefits them, or they can use it to bash liberals.

Corruption With Impunity: The Imaginary Exoneration Of Chris Christie

Last week the Department of Justice gave a statement to NBC News regarding their investigation into New Jersey governor Chris Christie. The statement was an update on “Bridge-Gate,” the dangerous, unlawful, and politically motivated closure of several lanes of the George Washington Bridge orchestrated by his administration. It didn’t take long for NBC’s story to become widely misinterpreted by much of the conservative media. According to NBC News

“The U.S. Justice Department investigation into Gov. Chris Christie’s role in the George Washington Bridge lane closure scandal has thus far uncovered no evidence indicating that he either knew in advance or directed the closure of traffic lanes on the span, federal officials tell NBC 4 New York.”

That statement formed the basis of a broad campaign to rehabilitate the sagging public image of Christie who is anticipated to be a candidate for the Republican nomination for president in 2016. Many pseudo-news enterprises published stories that described Christie as “vindicated,” “innocent” or “falsely accused.” Calls from right-wing media critics went out to insure that coverage of Christie’s alleged exoneration was equal to that which took place while the allegations were being investigated. There’s just one problem.

Chris Christie 2016

Christie has not been exonerated. The report by NBC News said only that no evidence had been uncovered “so far.” The feds explicitly stated that the investigation is ongoing and that no conclusion has been reached. What’s more, there is still an investigation being conducted by New Jersey state officials that is separate from the federal probe and involves different violations of law.

The Christie thumpers need to reserve their celebration until all of the pending investigations are concluded. That does not appear to be imminent. And even if Christie manages to squirm out of any finding of direct culpability, he still needs to answer for how so many of his senior staffers were involved in a sleazy, criminal conspiracy without his knowledge. Either he knew and has successfully covered it up, or he didn’t know and is an incompetent who can’t control his felonious underlings.

That’s not a great place from which to shape a presidential campaign. Your starting off with a significant disadvantage if you have to choose between these slogans: “Christie: He got away with it,” or “Christie: Because he don’t know nothin.”

The last shoe has yet to drop in this affair. These sort of political shenanigans often take some time to unwind as the players jockey for position in order to cop a plea and avoid the consequences of their shady behavior. It is way too soon for Christie to pop the Champagne corks. Likewise, it is too soon for his media boosters to begin writing his victory speech.

PolitiFact Proves Fox News Bias On ISIL Hearings – Also That Greg Gutfeld Is An Ass

On Tuesday Media Matters published their analysis of Fox News bias during coverage of a Senate hearing on President Obama’s plans for dealing with ISIL. Media Matters showed that during Fox’s broadcast they would air remarks by Republicans on the committee and then cut away when Democrats began to speak. The result was that Republicans were given twice as much airtime as Democrats on the allegedly “fair and balanced” network. This is an old tactic by Fox which News Corpse documented last year in another Senate hearing.

Today PolitiFact weighed in with an article seeking to confirm the data that Media Matters reported. They found that…

“Media Matters said that Fox News gave Republican senators twice as much air time as Democratic ones during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing. They said Republicans got 16 minutes compared to the Democrats’ eight. That matches our count.

“We also found that other networks provided more time and more evenly divided time to members of both parties.

“We rate the claim True.”

Fox News Greg Gutfeld

This is not exactly breaking news. Media Matters is a reliably consistent source for accurate information about the biases and partisan excesses of right-wing media. What makes this interesting at this time is that it occurred almost simultaneously to a feverish rant by Fox’s Greg Gutfeld, co-host of The Five. Gutfeld was perturbed by reports that cited Media Matters research showing the obsession that Fox News has for the Benghazi hoax. The study revealed that Fox aired nearly 1,100 reports on the subject, most of which were decidedly slanted to the right. For instance, 97% of the congressional interviews on Fox relating to Benghazi were with Republicans.

The accuracy of Media Matters’ reporting, however, was immaterial to Gutfeld’s rightist indignation. He let loose on Media Matters saying that…

“…the left-wing hacks would just work from Media Matters’ press releases […] It’s much easier than doing original research to just read from a press release.”

That’s true. And it’s also hilariously ironic coming from a Fox News flunky. The reporting that Gutfeld was complaining about just happened to be unarguably correct, as noted by PolitiFact. But his griping over journalists using research from Media Matters is just plain stupid. Every media organization uses research from independent sources to augment their reporting. Often they latch onto providers with viewpoints that are aligned to their own. And, of course, Fox News is one of those media enterprises that does this. In fact, Fox’s Brit Hume gave a slobbering endorsement to one of the most blatantly partisan research outfits, the Media Research Center. Hume praised them 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.”

So according to Gutfeld, Hume is a “lazy hack sitting with his laptop, covered in Cheetos.” And if that weren’t bad enough. Gutfeld must have entirely missed the scandal when Fox News was caught red-handed reporting verbatim from a Republican Senate press release as if it were their own reporting, complete with a typo that appeared on the original. And then there was the time that Fox’s Megyn Kelly did the same thing with a press release issued by the Republican National Committee, pretending it was authored by the Fox news staff.

Clearly Gutfeld doesn’t know what he’s talking about. He’s too focused on being the comic relief for the network, but instead comes off like the boneheaded sitcom neighbor who mistakenly thinks he is either funny or suave. In the end he is little more than a troll working for a network that has once again been proven to be an unrepentant purveyor of lies. And their practice of airing Democrat-free Senate hearing just insures that their audience of misinformed dimwits will remain ignorant.

And speaking of Fox News lies…
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