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

Guess How Fox News Covered Ted Nugent’s Hate Speech

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fox News

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

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

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

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

Fox News - Nagin

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

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

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

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

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

Fox News Mislabels

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

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

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

Does Fox News Have A Culture That Encourages Personal Attacks?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fox News

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

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

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

New York Times Demolishes Benghazi Hoax – Fox News Freaks Out

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

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

Benghazi Hoax

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fox Nation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fox News
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Fox Nation vs. Reality.

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

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

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

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

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