The Queen Of Astroturf Doesn’t Know The Meaning Of Astroturf

When Sharyl Attkisson left CBS over her flagrant insertion of conservative political bias into the stories she covered, she might have tried to rehabilitate her decaying reputation by affiliating herself with a credible news organization. Instead, she immediately signed up with Fox News (not exactly the place to prove your aren’t shilling for the right) and took a position with the The Daily Signal, the pseudo-news Internet outlet run by the ultra-rightist Heritage Foundation.

Media Circus

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Her post-CBS work has mainly been limited to three areas of shameless whining: 1) Bashing those in her past that she felt had discriminated against her freedom to propagandize; 2) Promoting her anti-Obama diatribe “Stonewalled: My Fight for Truth Against the Forces of Obstruction, Intimidation, and Harassment in Obama’s Washington;” and 3) Telling paranoid (and ultimately debunked) tales of being spied on by shadowy, unnamed enemies in the government determined to destroy her professionally and personally.

Continuing her transparently prejudiced crusade against a select group of imagined adversaries, Attkisson has published her list of “The Top 10 Astroturfers.” In the process she has demonstrated that she is viscerally determined to persist in slandering her perceived foes. What’s more, she is proving that she doesn’t have any idea what Astroturfing is. For the record, here is the generally recognized definition of this neologism:

Astroturf: An apparently grassroots-based citizen group or coalition that is primarily conceived, created and/or funded by corporations, industry trade associations, political interests or public relations firms. It seeks to disguise a powerful special interest as a popular movement.

On that basis, here is Attkisson’s list:

  1. Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America and Everytown
  2. Media Matters for America
  3. University of California Hastings Professor Dorit Rubenstein Reiss and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s Dr. Paul Offit
  4. “Science” Blogs such as: Skeptic.com, Skepchick.org, Scienceblogs.com (Respectful Insolence), Popsci.com and SkepticalRaptors.com
  5. Mother Jones
  6. Salon.com and Vox.com
  7. White House press briefings and press secretary Josh Earnest
  8. Daily Kos and The Huffington Post
  9. CNN, NBC, New York Times, Politico and Talking Points Memo (TPM)
  10. MSNBC, Slate.com, Los Angeles Times and Michael Hiltzik of the Los Angeles Times, MSNBC and Jon Stewart.

There is not a single group on the list that meets the definition of an Astroturf enterprise. The one that comes closest is Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense due to its relationship with another group founded by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. However, MDA was started by an actual mom in Indiana and has a membership of more than 150,000. The rest of the list is patently absurd.

Media Matters is a watchdog group that documents conservative bias in the media. It does not lobby any government entity, organize citizens to demonstrate, or otherwise engage in social activism. However, it is one of Attkisson’s most effective critics and thus won the number two slot on the list.

The U.C. professor and Children’s Hospital have worked on educating the public about the importance of vaccinations. Apparently that has stirred Attkisson’s ire. Also in this category are a few science-related blogs. However, Attkisson doesn’t explain why they should be on the list other than because they have a point of view. She never even bothers to try to connect them to some well-heeled benefactor. In any case, universities, hospitals, and independent blogs are not Astroturfers by any stretch of the imagination.

The most well-represented group on the list are media enterprises. They range from mainstream outlets like CNN, NBC, and the New York Times, to established magazines and Internet sites like Mother Jones, Salon, and Politico, to more alternative sources like Daily Kos, and the Huffington Post. The only conceivable reason for Attkisson citing these media players on her list is that they are all regarded by conservatives like herself as left-leaning, and therefore deserving of her wrath. But they are certainly not Astroturf.

Attkisson really goes off the rails by including the White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest and the Daily Show’s Jon Stewart on the list. How can anyone define either of them as faux grassroots-based citizen groups backed by wealthy special interests? More than any other people or groups on the list, these two show that Attkisson cannot be taken seriously.

Attkisson describes her list as “an informal, non-scientific survey.” Her footnote reveals that “the results represent 169 Twitter respondents who answered a public query either directly or through direct message.” What could possibly be more ludicrous as a sampling of opinion than a tiny group of respondents to her own Tweet? Is Atkisson purposely sabotaging her reputation in a public spectacle of professional suicide? The remainder of her commentary accompanying the list essentially redefines Astroturfing to fit her personal enemies list. It’s like dieters defining cupcakes as vegetables so they can eat more of them.

If she wants some examples of bona fide Astroturfers, she need look no further than her employer the Heritage Foundation, which began as a right-wing think tank, but with new leadership provided by former Republican senator Jim DeMint, it has become a full-fledged factory for fake activism. Under DeMint’s tenure it launched the Daily Signal which publishes highly biased articles including those by its new correspondent, Sharyl Attkisson.

Other Astroturfers include the Tea Party Express, which was founded by a Republican public relations firm and is notorious for funneling nearly all of the donations it receives back into its own pockets. Karl Rove’s American Crossroads. Numerous Koch brothers funded entities like Americans for Prosperity, FreedomWorks, Generation Opportunity, The LIBRE Initiative, Concerned Veterans for America, and many more. Even Sarah Palin has joined the con game with her Super PAC and the subscription Internet site she launched that often has no content for days on end. In all of these cases there is little evidence of public support, but massive bankrolling by wealthy conservative rainmakers.

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A recent study by a conservative news organization highlighted the rampant corruption in many of the right-wing Astroturf enterprises and political action committees. The Washington Post reported that…

“Right Wing News released a report on a group of conservative PACs that took in millions of dollars in contributions in 2014, ostensibly for the purpose of electing Republicans, but spent almost none of it on actual political activity. Instead, the money went into the pockets of the people who run the PACs and their associates.”

This appears to be the rule, and not the exception. And part of why it becomes so easy to rip-off the ignorant wingnut community is that fakers like Attkisson permit the scams to proceed without consequence. By shining her spotlight on an array of organizations that in no way qualify as Astroturf, Attkisson allows the grifters to operate freely while their victims are lost in a maze of false accusations.

WTF? Now Conservatives Love The Lamestream Media Because – Obama

The only thing that tingles the naughty parts of right-wingers more than bashing President Obama over some trumped up scandal or context-deprived sentence fragment, is railing against the greatest threat to America since gay, Ebola-infected, terrorist children sneaking across the border – The “Lamestream” Media (which, ironically, was responsible for most of the panic about gay, Ebola-infected, terrorist children sneaking across the border).

Ever since Sarah Palin’s speech writers pretended to coin the term, conservatives have vociferously criticized the conventional media outlets that they regarded as hopelessly corrupted by liberal bias and deference to the powers that be. They blasted the broadcast networks and cable news channels (except for Fox News, the biggest, most mainstream of them all) with condemnations of their allegedly slanted reporting and anti-American partisanship. Never mind that all of the major news enterprises are divisions of giant, multinational corporations that benefit directly from the hyper-capitalist, free-market mutations that Randian conservatives worship.

Invariably it is Fox News leading that attack pack to blister those associated with the big media organizations. And everyone on the far right gets in line to wield blows. But now they have an ally seeking to join the parade of criticism. An unwanted ally, apparently.

Fox News

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In what must be a deliberate attempt to upend the rightist ideologues’ mission, Obama made some remarks in an interview with Vox.com, an alternative Internet media company, that has shaken the press sparling’s brains into a state of utter confusion. decrying what he called “the balkanization of the media,” Obama said that…

“You’ve got the Fox News/Rush Limbaugh folks and then you’ve got the MSNBC folks… [it] allows us to narrow our point of view. […and that…] My advice to a future president is increasingly try to bypass the traditional venues that create divisions and try to find new venues within this new media that are quirkier, less predictable.”

That, of course, is precisely what the right has been saying ever since the black guy occupied the White House. Rightist thought bleeders like Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck have relocated to cyberspace outposts where they enjoy the freedom to pontificate as incoherently as they please. And everyone from Wingnut Land has advocated the very same advice that Obama offered about finding new venues.

Despite that apparent agreement, conservative hypocrites, upon learning of Obama’s support for new and alternative media, have now flipped their stance and are furious that Obama would say anything derogatory about the conventional press. They have adjusted their blinders so that all they can see are Obama’s comments regarding Fox News and Rush Limbaugh. The single-note chorus erupting from the right-wing choir is that Obama is specifically blaming just those two sources for all of his problems, despite his having mentioned MSNBC in the very same breath. And the fact that he would consent to being interviewed by an Internet media publisher like Vox is an insult to the good people who toil so valiantly in the now wonderful mainstream media.

This is not new complaint from the right. They howl when Obama appears with popular comedians like Stephen Colbert and Zach Galifianakis. They grumble when he hosts Google Hangouts. More recently, they went totally bonkers when he allowed YouTube stars, with audiences bigger than Fox News, to interview him. On that subject, Fox contributor Jonah Goldberg of the ultra-rightist National Review whined that Obama “only likes to talk to people who think he’s awesome.” That will come as some surprise to Fox’s Bill O’Reilly and Bret Baier, who have both interviewed Obama.

The lesson here for the President is that he must hunker down in the White House basement and speak to no one. Because if he conducts an interview with ABC News he is a pandering to the lamestream elitists who are in the tank for him. And if he bypasses them he is insulting the indisputable dignity of the American press and proving that he’s afraid of tough questions. As always, Fox News and the right have constructed a bullet-proof, lose-lose scenario from which Obama cannot hope to escape. Unless, of course, he uses simple logic and reason, concepts that escape the ability of the right to comprehend.

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Obama Vox Interview

The Fox News Primary: CNN On Kissing Rupert’s Ring And Other Body Parts

Sunday morning’s media analysis program on CNN, Reliable Sources, aired a segment (video below) that exposed the overtly partisan promotion of Republican candidates on Fox News. The obvious biases that infect the network’s programming have long been known to anyone paying attention, and the necessity to win the favor of the Fox Politburo is unquestioned.

Fox News Primary

Host Brian Stelter introduced the segment saying…

“Will those two guys, Fox News president Roger Ailes and his boss Rupert Murdoch, be picking your next president? It may sound ridiculous. It may sound like some liberal conspiracy theory. But there’s no disputing that they have real power in the GOP primary.”

That’s an understatement. Not only is Fox News a real power in the GOP primary proper, they often launch candidates from among their own employees. Just looking at the 2016 presidential cycle, Fox vets Mike Huckabee, Ben Carson, Sarah Palin, Donald Trump, John Bolton, Rick Santorum and John Kasich have all indicated an interested in running. And most of the other prospective candidates (i.e. Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Bobby Jindal, Rick Perry, and Paul Ryan) have staked out territory on Fox’s air on a regular basis. This led Stelter’s guest, Gabriel Sherman, author of the Ailes bio The Loudest Voice in the Room, to say…

“Without a question Roger Ailes controls the largest block of reliable Republican voters. They watch Fox News. They turn out in large numbers on primary day. And the candidates are already kissing the ring.”

For some evidence of the influence imposed by Fox, News Corpse reported this week that Mitt Romney’s departure from the race likely received more than a little push from Rupert Murdoch, whose anti-Romney stance was expressed publicly on more than one occasion. Stelter also noticed Murdoch’s remarks and coyly called it “purely coincidental.” Nevertheless, when the Fox News media analysis program, MediaBuzz with Howard Kurtz, reported on Romney bailing out, they laughably portrayed it as being the result of some ambiguous, negative media coverage, with an on-screen graphic reading “Did The Media Sink Romney?”

Yeah right. No mention of Romney’s negative coverage on Fox. Likewise, no mention of the disparaging comments by Murdoch, or Sean Hannity, or numerous other Tea Party mouthpieces on Fox. Not surprisingly, a conservative guest on Reliable Sources, the Daily Caller’s Matt Lewis, dismissed any talk of influence on the part of Fox News. He would have to be seriously oblivious to reality in order believe that or to say…

“In terms of them having some sort of conspiracy to help boost one candidate or another – I mean look, if they had their way the Republican Party would be a pro-immigration reform party right now.”

Lewis must not watch very much Fox News if he hasn’t seen the Republican fluffing that goes on hour after hour. And to suggest that the network that continues to use the word “illegals” in reference to undocumented residents, even after most reputable news organizations have abandoned it (including the Fox Latino website), shows just how warped his view of the network is. Fox News is unashamedly hostile to immigration reform, as well as to immigrants, and so are most of the GOP candidates.

For the next year and a half Fox News will continue to work on behalf of the Republican Party. They are already in league with the Republican National Committee’s plans for primary debates. And during the general election Fox will openly promote the GOP candidate and lie shamelessly about the Democrat. It’s what they do. And the parade of GOP hopefuls kowtowing to Ailes and Murdoch know all too well how important it is to kiss their rings, and other body parts as required.

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DEM Senator: GOP Hearing Turns Into Soundbite Factory For Fox News

Yesterday the Senate Judiciary Committee, meeting for the first time since the Republican Party assumed the majority, held a hearing on the confirmation of Loretta Lynch to be the next Attorney General of the United States. And the new GOP leadership demonstrated just how corruptly tied they are to their propaganda arm at Fox News.

Fox News Soundbite Factory

Now that Republicans have the power to control the proceedings, they began by inviting a panel of overtly biased right-wingers who admitted that they had nothing to say about the AG nominee. The sole purpose of their attendance was to rag on the current AG, Eric Holder, and President Obama. The Republicans were using the hearing to express their hostility toward Holder and to try to make political points against the President that had nothing to do with the confirmation of Lynch.

What’s even worse is that the panel consisted of sham witnesses with notorious biases. They included disgraced former reporter Sharyl Attkisson, Tea Party Sheriff David Clarke, and voter suppression activist Catherine Engelbrecht of TrueTheVote. The giveaway was that these plants left the hearing upon completion of their testimony and hightailed it down to the Fox News studios for a turn on Sean Hannity’s show where they continued their bitchfest. That eventuality was actually predicted during the hearing by Democratic Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (video below) who called out the wingnut ringers saying that…

“I regret that this hearing and this solemn occasion has been co-opted to that extent and turned into what appears to be a soundbite factory for Fox News and conspiracy theorists everywhere.”

He could not have nailed it better. The fact that Republicans in Congress will abuse the process to stage a political theatrical affair is not particularly surprising. They have long ago proven themselves to be dismissive of democracy and willing to subvert government institutions in order to achieve their partisan goals. But the blatant exercise of casting a panel of “witnesses” who have dual roles as Fox News flunkies really indicts the new Senate majority as hopelessly corrupt.

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PolitiFact On The New Improved Fox News: Now With Even More Lies

The fact checkers over at PolitiFact have updated their Truth-O-Meter scorecards for the cable news networks and the results are not particularly favorable for Fox News (which is not particularly surprising).

Fox News PolitiFact

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According to PolitiFact, the current results breakdown like this:

  • At Fox 61% of the claims have been rated Mostly False or worse.
  • At MSNBC 44% of the claims have received a rating of Mostly False or worse.
  • At CNN 20% of the claims have received a rating of Mostly False or worse.

The change from their last analysis in September of 2014 shows that both CNN and MSNBC have improved their record, while Fox has sunk deeper into the abyss of dishonesty. Although, from Fox’s perspective that would be regarded as an improvement since it is their intention to deceive.

Some of the types of stories that contributed to Fox’s downward spiral include the ludicrous assertion that Birmingham, England was a totally Muslim city that no one else can enter, and that France has 741 no-go zones itself. Those claims were mercilessly mocked and produced the Twitter hashtag “#FoxNewsFacts” as well as a brilliant response from Le Petit Journal, a French television satire show.

Then there was the report by Fox that a proposal by the Obama administration to close tax loopholes for the wealthy and cut billions of dollars of taxes for the middle-class was actually a tax increase. And Fox also reported repeatedly that the Keystone XL pipeline would create tens of thousands of jobs, when only 35 of them would be permanent. Megyn Kelly did a lengthy segment revealing how Colorado Democrats were plotting to engage in massive voter fraud, except that none of her reporting was true. And Fox’s George Will fear mongered about Ebola saying falsely that it could be transmitted by a cough.

And that’s only the tip of the iceberg. Every day there are new fallacies presented as truths by the practiced liars at Fox. The result is that Fox is the only network that has more false rulings than true by PolitiFact, by a wide margin. And Fox really has to work at failing the truth test 61% of the time. If you had any intention of being honest, you could do better than that by flipping a coin. Which makes it all the more incomprehensible that anyone still considers Fox to be a legitimate news enterprise.

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Obama’s YouTube Interviewers Smeared By Fox News Host With Smaller Audience

On MediaBuzz, the Fox News program dedicated to reviewing the press, anchor Howard Kurtz took another opportunity to belittle President Obama and the YouTube personalities that interviewed him following the State of the Union Address. This is apparently a sore spot for conservative media dinosaurs like Kurtz who think that it is “beneath the dignity of the office to be hanging out with some of these YouTubers.” As noted in a previous article, the jealously and hypocrisy of the entrenched conventional media was exposed by their arrogant dismissal of a forward-thinking politician who recognizes the value in relating to a new generation of Americans on their own turf.

But Kurtz wasn’t finished. He took his criticisms to his own Sunday program to lay into the President and the YouTubers again. This time he focused on a distinction between the YouTube personalities and mainstream entertainment programs on television saying that he is “fine with Obama going on Ellen, The View, Colbert, but isn’t this sort of like the low-rent district?”

Howard Kurtz vs. YouTube

First of all, it wasn’t too long ago that going on shows like Ellen was looked down upon in the same way that Kurtz is demeaning YouTube. Bill Clinton’s appearance on Arsenio Hall was widely mocked by the dino-press. The same is true when politicians began to take cautious steps onto late night shows like Leno and Letterman. In most cases they still complain that such appearances trivialize the political guest.

Secondly, for Kurtz to insult the YouTubers as “low-rent” displays a giant, family-sized bag of chutzpah. His program on the journalistic wasteland of Fox News has an audience of about half a million viewers. Fox News Sunday, pulls in about 1.3 million. But the YouTube trio who sat with Obama last week reach a much bigger audience. Hank Green’s Vlogbrothers has a YouTube subscriber base of 2.4 million. The flamboyant Glozell draws 3.4 million. And Bethany Mota pulls in a whopping 8.1 million people. That’s about four times the viewers of Bill O’Reilly.

In Kurtz’s MediaBuzz segment he ran a brief video that featured only a few moments of fun or silliness, and he implied that they were representative of the whole of each interview. That is a deliberate and bald-faced lie. Many of the questions asked of the President were as substantive and probing as any that the more “professional” reporters would have asked. For instance…

  • Hank Green asked Obama whether the issues he raised in the State of the Union were politically feasible. He also asked whether Obama’s policy of drone strikes would be viewed in retrospect as a misuse of technology.
  • Glozell addressed the issue of police relations with African-Americans. She also imposed on Obama to justify his initiative to reinstate diplomatic relations with Cuba and the Castros.
  • Bethany Mota began with a question that many of her generation are struggling with, making education affordable. She continued with questions about the Nigerian terrorist group, Boko Haram, which has not been getting the media attention that ISIS does, even though they have been at times more lethal.

It would be difficult for Kurtz to honestly find fault with these lines of questioning without condemning his own colleagues who have asked many of the same types of questions. But instead he chose to air some laugh lines and pretend that’s all that occurred. And his panel was no better. Jonah Goldberg of the ultra-rightist National Review whined that Obama “only likes to talk to people who think he’s awesome.” That will come as some surprise to Fox’s Bill O’Reilly and Bret Baier, who have both interviewed Obama. Either Goldberg has early onset Alzheimer’s or he is purposefully misleading. As for examples of profound inquiries by Fox News reporters, this morning Chris Wallace asked Obama’s Chief of Staff if because of the election results in November “Doesn’t the President need to scale back his agenda to work with Republicans?”

Really? So the President should abandon his principles and capitulate to a party that won a majority in the lowest turnout election in 70 years? And when did Wallace ever ask Republicans to scale back their agenda in 2012 or 2008, after big Democratic victories? In fact, one of the first things Wallace said after the first inauguration of Obama was to question whether he was actually president because Chief Justice Roberts flubbed the oath of office. Then GOP senate leader Mitch McConnell declared that his top priority was to make Obama a one-term president. And Rush Limbaugh said “I hope he fails.” Apparently no agenda scaling back was necessary for the Republican losers.

Before Kurtz maligns others as being in a “low-rent district” he should assess the value of his own property. What he will find is a petty, biased, plot of fear mongering and racism. It’s a tract that Fox News has spent years developing.

The New York Times Peddles Phony ‘Megyn Kelly Moment’ In Fawning Profile

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Jealous Media Hacks Bash Obama’s YouTube Interviews (w/Video)

Anyone who doubts that the media has a powerful and influential impact on society and its forward progress is probably still trying to tune in radio broadcasts of The Lone Ranger. And part of recognizing that impact is paying attention to the ways that technology and evolving trends change how people interact with information.

The old guard is notoriously resistant to any disruption of their domain. So it is not surprising that staid, conventional media players are outraged and offended that President Obama has once again bucked their banalities to hobnob with more edgy communicators and reach out to a broader, more modern audience.

Obama YouTube Interviews

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Obama’s White House interviews with three YouTube stars is emblematic of the shift in media access. The lucky video hosts may not have journalism credentials, but they do have a refreshing sincerity and massive audiences. In fact, they reach more people than would be reached by traditional media. Hank Green’s Vlogbrothers has a YouTube subscriber base of 2.4 million. The flamboyant Glozell draws 3.4 million. And Bethany Mota pulls in a whopping 8.1 million people. That’s about four times the viewers of Bill O’Reilly on Fox News.

Nevertheless, the dinosaur newsers have been fairly unanimous in their condemnation of the President for granting these interviews. Fox’s media analyst, Howard Kurtz, called it “beneath the dignity of the office to be hanging out with some of these YouTubers.” Glenn Beck called it “truly obscene” and compared it to going on a burlesque show. The folks at RightScoop called their fellow vloggers “a bunch of idiot YouTube stars.” And just about everybody focused solely on Glozell, the most outrageous of the three inquisitors, virtually ignoring the substance of the questions overall.

Ever mindful of protecting their turf, many in the press complained that Obama was dodging “serious” reporters by staging these Internet affairs. They must have forgotten that he just did a full court press conference last month. And the questions asked at that event were no better than those asked by the YouTubers. To the contrary, the YouTube questions were often far more substantive and relevant to the lives of real people. What’s more, the biggest issue that emerged from last months press availability seemed to be the right-wing indignation over the fact that all of the reporters called on were women.

Another logical failing on the part of conservative critics is that despite their relentless harping about how the “lamestream” media is a useless and outdated institution populated by elitist, partisan, know-nothings, they bust cranial blood vessels when the President steps outside the bubble to dialogue with an alternative to the mainstream. Apparently they will only be satisfied if he agrees to sit down with Ann Coulter or Rush Limbaugh.

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Here is the White House video of all three YouTube interviews that has already been viewed more than 750,000 times.

KNEE-JERKS: The Predictable Ass-Holiness Of Fox News And The GOP Post-SOTU

In a development that will surprise only a few mentally deficient cave dwellers, President Obama’s State of the Union speech was greeted by Republican politicians and conservative pundits with barefaced disdain. Naturally, Fox News took the lead in developing a hostile rapid response in order to provide the President’s foes with an easily referenced collection of attack themes. In fact, Fox was so diligent that their oppositional strategy was actually launched before the speech even began.

To set the scene, Obama presented a rosy picture of the nation after six years of his presidency. He spoke of the economic renewal that has created more than 11 million new jobs, reduced the deficit by two-thirds, and produced unprecedented private sector growth. He addressed many of the issues that have long been a part of the Democratic agenda including tax reform that eliminates loopholes for the rich and benefits the middle-class, enhancing opportunities for education, reducing our dependency on foreign oil and advancing the development and use of alternative fuels, Climate Change, equal pay for women, raising the minimum wage, Net Neutrality, and access to affordable and effective health care. And he noted that the successes of the last six years were achieved despite the fact that “At every step, we were told our goals were misguided or too ambitious; that we would crush jobs and explode deficits.”

So how did the right respond to these facts? By denying them, of course. And they topped that off with some distractions and ad hominem insults. The apparent primary line of attack from the right is to accuse Obama of not having heard the message sent by voters last November. However, if there was any message at all it was delivered so faintly that the President could be excused for not hearing it. It was the lowest voter turnout in 70 years. Sixty-two percent of Americans didn’t vote at all, and the Republican victories were achieved with about 20% of eligible voters. That’s not exactly a mandate.

The GOP complained that the American people want him to work with Congress. But their definition of that is to abandon his principles and capitulate to Republicans. Obama tried to work with the GOP for six years and was rebuffed at every turn. It’s ironic that Republicans demand that Obama pay heed to the election results when they so flagrantly ignored them in 2008 and 2012, even plotting to oppose everything he did from day one of his administration. Where were the Republicans insisting on respect for the decision of the voters when Mitch McConnell declared, on inauguration day, that his first priority was making Obama a one term president? And it should be noted that Obama enjoyed landslide victories with much larger voter participation.

It didn’t take long for one of the points Obama made in his speech to get rolled over by the Fox News editorial positioning. The President sought to inspire a more substantive relationship between the White House and Congress saying…

“There are a lot of good people here, on both sides of the aisle. And many of you have told me that this isn’t what you signed up for?-?arguing past each other on cable shows, the constant fundraising, always looking over your shoulder at how the base will react to every decision. […] A better politics is one where we debate without demonizing each other; where we talk issues, and values, and principles, and facts, rather than ‘gotcha’ moments, or trivial gaffes, or fake controversies that have nothing to do with people’s daily lives.”

The response to this by Fox anchors and guests was to embrace trivialization and fake controversies. Within seconds of the end of the speech, Bret Baier complained that Obama had not said the name “Al Qaeda” during the address. Of course, Obama did speak at length about terrorism and his administration’s commitment to “degrade and ultimately destroy” the enemy. The problem is that if you don’t specifically say “Al Qaeda” you are criticized for it. If you do say it you are criticized for not saying “jihad.” If you do say that you are criticized for not saying “Islamist.” If you do say that you are criticized for not saying ….. Well, you get the idea. Obama would have to make a list of every word the right obsesses over and make sure to stuff them all into every one of his speeches.

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The Fox News collective, and the Republican Party they serve (or is it the other way around) suffers from Oppositional Defiant Disorder: a persistent pattern of tantrums, arguing, and angry or disruptive behavior, generally associated with children. A perfect illustration of this is the way the Fox Nation website characterized a post-SOTU article by the Associated Press. Their headline was “AP Fact Check Obliterates Obama’s SOTU.”

Fox Nation SOTU

To be sure, the AP took a decidedly biased and negative tone, as the so-called liberal media usually does, but even so, they could not find substantive fault with Obama’s speech, much less obliteration. Here are the “facts” they allegedly checked:

  • Obama: At this moment – with a growing economy, shrinking deficits, bustling industry and booming energy production – We have risen from recession freer to write our own future than any other nation on Earth.
    — The AP’s analysis essentially concurred saying that “Job growth has been healthy. […] Inflation-adjusted median household income…is about 4 percent higher than when it bottomed out in 2011. […] Booming energy production is indeed a reality.”
  • Obama: I am sending this Congress a bold new plan to lower the cost of community college to zero.
    — This, of course, is not a refutable fact and the AP didn’t bother to refute it. They simply argued that Republicans in Congress will not be receptive to the plan. But that knee-jerk obstructionism has been the GOP stance ever since Obama became President.
  • Obama: We’ve set aside more public lands and waters than any administration in history.
    — The AP acknowledged that this is true saying that “Expansion of the massive Pacific islands monument puts Obama on top.”
  • Obama: Thanks to a growing economy, the recovery is touching more and more lives. Wages are finally starting to rise again. We know that more small-business owners plan to raise their employees’ pay than at any time since 2007.
    — Yes, said the AP: “A survey of small businesses by the National Federation of Independent Business does show that a rising proportion plans to raise wages.”

It appears that Fox News is confusing the concept of “obliteration” with the diametrically opposed concept of “nearly complete concurrence.” That degree of cognitive failure explains the antsy grumbling of FoxPods and the GOP who are distressed that Obama has not concluded that the last two years of his presidency are irrelevant and that he should work on his presidential library and let Republicans in Congress govern the country. And it also explains how they can insist that his speech was defiant and combative despite these closing remarks:

“If you share the broad vision I outlined tonight, join me in the work at hand. If you disagree with parts of it, I hope you’ll at least work with me where you do agree. And I commit to every Republican here tonight that I will not only seek out your ideas, I will seek to work with you to make this country stronger.”

It would be naive not to recognize that this sort of rhetorical communion is common in political discourse and is often insincere. But it was nevertheless an outstretched hand and the GOP ought to at least try to grasp it before they swat it down. But that would be totally out of character for a party that has made rancid animosity the hallmark of their tenure.

Hateful “Real” Americans Protest Muslim Conference Against Hate And Terror

This weekend there was a conference held in Garland, Texas by a Muslim organization hoping to address the negative stereotypes disseminated by the media and racist politicians. The event was met with opposition by a small band of protesters whose vulgar behavior illustrated the need for the conference in the first place. Not surprisingly, Fox News offered coverage of sorts by posting a link on their Fox Nation website to an article in the ultra right-wing Washington Times. The piece led with the headline “‘Stand With Prophet’ Event In Texas Draws Thousands Of Protesters.”

Fox Nation

The first problem with the story is that there were not “thousands” of protesters. The attendance was reported by media at the scene as being a few hundred, and that included people who were supporting the event.

However, much worse was the tone of the protesters who were overtly hostile to a group whose purpose was to renounce terrorism, repudiate violence, and seek harmony with their fellow American citizens. The conferees stated mission was to make clear that terrorists like ISIS and Al Qaeda are “enemies of Islam who are hurting Muslims and neighborly relations toward the world.” They were met with angry accusations that “You are not Americans. Don’t fly our flag,” and demands that “If they want to live their life like the middle east, they can go back to the middle east.” It’s unlikely that these malcontents would make the same demands to banish orthodox Jews or the Amish.

It is notable that the photo chosen to represent the allegedly patriotic protesters included one carrying a sign that said “Go home and take Obama with you.” Not only was this an exclusionary sentiment that falsely implied that America was not their home, it also revived the idiotic delusions of birthers who still can’t accept that Obama was born in the U.S.

The purpose of the conference, as stated on its website, was to “develop effective responses to anti-Islamic attacks, as well as to train young Muslims in media.” Clearly that is a goal that has been validated as necessary if the coverage of this event is any indication. The story was carried with the same negative slant, and false attendance estimates, by much of the conservative media. And the wretched prejudices expressed by the protesters proves that there is still a great deal of work to be done.

Hopefully cooler, less intolerant heads will prevail and citizens of all races, religions, and origins will be able to come together to defeat bigotry in all its vile forms. But that will not happen until media outlets like Fox are shamed into abandoning their own biases that serve no purpose other than to inflame the ignorant and empower racist, political demagogues.