Trump Gives A Big F.U. To The Media And The Public With A Virtual Press Blackout

Donald Trump was declared the winner of the presidential election two weeks ago. Since that time he has failed to hold a press conference to address the nation he will be representing. This is the longest period a president-elect has gone without a post-election press conference in forty years. But it’s worse than that because he actually hasn’t had a formal press conference since July. Do you suppose there might be a reason for that?

Donald Trump

Speculation could start with the fact that Trump has been more openly hostile to the media than any politician in recent memory. At his rallies he has called them dummies, losers, sleazy, liars, and more. He has not been the least bit shy about expressing his white-hot hatred for the Fourth Estate. He overtly threatened the press with lawsuits and other retribution. That included revoking the press credentials of media outlets he felt were too critical of him. In return, media advocates condemned his reckless behavior as “an unprecedented threat to press freedom.”

However, there are more substantive motives for Trump avoiding press scrutiny. The swarming torrent of scandals swirling around him pose serious risks to his nascent presidency. It begins with his election that is tainted by allegations of voter suppression and his loss of the popular vote. It continues with at least a dozen women who are charging him with sexual assault. Then there are his unsavory connections to Russia and its efforts to interfere with the election.

And that’s not all. Just a few days ago Trump agreed to pay $25 million to settle a lawsuit to compensate the fraud victims of his phony Trump University. His cabinet and administration appointees are affiliated with radical racist organizations. And he has a growing list of ethically compromising conflicts of interest. There has never been a president who has more brazenly used the office for personal gain.

No wonder Trump is avoiding the media. By going four months without taking questions from the press corps, Trump has evaded scrutiny over these and other issues. This may benefit his efforts to silence criticism, but it is a disservice to citizens and to democracy.

Sadly, the media seems to be all too willing to go along with him. Even after the atrocious way that Trump treats the press, they continue to cater to his whims. Very little mention is made of his extended refusal to face the media. That is decidedly different from the treatment that Hillary Clinton received when she went a few weeks without holding a press conference. Even though she did conduct hundreds of interviews with individual reporters, she was hounded and criticized. Fox News displayed a running clock of the days since her last press conference. And there was rampant insinuations of her having something to hide. Where is that criticism for Trump, who is no longer merely a candidate, but president-elect?

When asked when he might hold his first post-election press conference, his spokesperson, Kellyanne Conway, would say only “Soon.” She dodged any more specific answer saying that he was too busy with his transition activities. Does she expect him to be less busy when he’s the leader of the free world? What’s more, he wasn’t too busy to convene a private, off the record meeting with the heads of the major media corporations and some leading news anchors. The New York Post revealed some of what took place in that meeting, and it wasn’t pretty:

“It was like a f–ing firing squad,” one source said of the encounter.

Trump started with [CNN chief] Jeff Zucker and said “I hate your network, everyone at CNN is a liar and you should be ashamed,” the source said.

The meeting was a total disaster. The TV execs and anchors went in there thinking they would be discussing the access they would get to the Trump administration, but instead they got a Trump-style dressing down,” the source added.

A second source confirmed the fireworks.

To be sure, that account was from the notoriously bombastic New York Post. Some other reports described the get together with less intensity. But while the Post may lean toward melodrama, the others may be more interested in preserving access to the administration. All things considered, the Post’s account sounds more like the Trump we have all come to know.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

The old fallacy of the “liberal” media is further undermined by these events. Trump is getting far more favorable treatment than Clinton did under similar circumstances. More importantly, he is getting away with suppressing coverage of his scandalous activities. The media is supposed to hold politicians to account, but they are failing to do their job. If this keeps up for the next four years America will be buried in tabloid irrelevancies. Trump’s improprieties will be state secrets. And the National Enquirer and Breitbart News will become the dominant media and serve as America’s Pravda.

Getting Rid Of Fake News? Start With Fox News!

For the past few days there has been a big furor over the spread of fake news online. Much of the criticism hinges on what impact it might have had on the election. A BuzzFeed analysis revealed that fake news stories “generated more engagement than the top stories from major news outlets” such as the New York Times, NBC News, etc. What’s more, the study shows that Trump supporters were far more likely to be taken in by fake news than others:

“Of the 20 top-performing false election stories identified in the analysis, all but three were overtly pro-Donald Trump or anti-Hillary Clinton.” [and that] The research turned up only one viral false election story from a hyperpartisan left-wing site…The other false viral election stories from hyperpartisan sites came from right-wing publishers, according to the analysis.

Social media sites are taking steps to mitigate the problem. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg announced plans to address it saying that “we take this responsibility seriously.” However, if that’s true there is one very prominent producer of fake news that would have to be included in any purge.

Fox News has been creating a veritable cornucopia of disinformation for most of its twenty year existence. The volume of demonstrably false stories that it publishes dwarfs any of the fake sites that BuzzFeed studied.

Fox News Lies

So this might be a good time to provide some examples of why Fox News is the unchallenged leader in bullshit. These are all real headlines from Fox News:

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

Each and every one of those stories are patently false. They are not merely differences of opinion, but verifiably untrue. The question is, could any of this type of fiction have swayed the election? Who knows? But it certainly doesn’t help. And the fact that the gullibility of news consumers is slanted so heavily to the right is an alarming revelation. These types of stories may not move average voters, but Donald Trump’s voters are prime targets for such deception. Obviously they aren’t interested in truth or they wouldn’t be Trump voters (see the Trump Bullshitopedia).

Even President Obama took notice of this “breakdown” in the media:

“If we are not serious about facts and what’s true and what’s not, and particularly in an age of social media where so many people are getting their information in sound bites and snippets off their phones, if we can’t discriminate between serious arguments and propaganda, then we have problems. Then democracy will break down.”

Fox News ‘White’ Washes Racist Past Of Trump’s Attorney General Nominee

The Trump transition marches on with another name being floated for a prominent role. This time it’s Sen. Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III (R-AL) who is reportedly being tapped for Attorney General. Jeff Sessions would join white nationalist Stephen Bannon and religious bigot Michael Flynn in Donald Trump’s inner circle.

Jeff Sessions

The choice of Sessions is perfectly aligned with Trump’s well-documented record of prejudice and division. But it’s not particularly suited for leadership of the Justice Department which is responsible for enforcing civil rights laws. Prior to his senate service, Sessions was a U.S. attorney and attorney general in Alabama. He was nominated by President Reagan for a seat on the federal bench, but failed to receive confirmation from a majority Republican senate. Among the reasons were his criticisms of the NAACP as un-American and communist-inspired. He also referred to a black lawyer as “boy,” and called white attorneys who defended black clients “race traitors.” No wonder former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke tweeted his support saying:

Ordinarily, this sort of behavior would be disqualifying for a high profile government post. But in the Age of Trump there are no depths too low for an aspiring public figure to sink. Trump himself has engaged in the most abhorrent forms of hate-speech aimed at African-Americans, women, Muslims, and others. And throughout it all, Fox News was there to tidy up his bigotry and re-frame it as bold, straight talk.

That’s exactly what happened Friday morning on Fox & Friends when guest host Ed Henry interviewed Trump advisor Brad Blakeman. Predictably impressed, Blakeman said that Trump “couldn’t pick a better candidate” than Sessions. He lauded the Senator as:

“…a guy who is steeped in the law, got an excellent reputation, was appointed by Ronald Reagan in 1981 to be the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Alabama, served for more than a decade, then became the attorney general thereafter of Alabama, and then the U.S. Senator. So he’s got a stellar record.”

Henry deftly dodged the substance of Blakeman’s glowing tribute to Sessions. Instead, he diverted to unrelated questions about Republican frustration with Democratic AG’s Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch. But for some reason Henry ignored the glaring omissions in Blakeman’s revisionist history.

An ethical journalist would have pointed out that Sessions was rejected for a judgeship due to blatantly racist behavior. That information is directly relevant to the duties of the Attorney General who has jurisdiction over the federal justice administration. But on Fox News it is potentially damaging to their mission of right-wing propaganda. Consequently, it’s left out of the discussion and their viewers remain blissfully ignorant. So even in the Age of Trump, some things never change.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

Hannity Wants To Use White House Press Credentials To Punish, Censor ‘Unfriendly’ Media

The emerging profile of the Trump administration is beginning to take shape. And it is just as frightening and offensive as expected.

Sean Hannity

Donald Trump’s first two official appointments provide no confidence whatsoever of a competent, inclusive Executive Branch. Right out of the gate is the current chair of the Republican National Committee, Reince Priebus, as Chief of Staff. So the gateway to the Oval Office will be guarded by a rank political partisan with no experience in government. Secondly, Trump made his campaign chair, Stephen Bannon, his Chief Strategist. Bannon, of course, is also the CEO of Breitbart News, the alt-right’s mouthpiece for racist propaganda.

On Monday Sean Hannity of Fox News (Breitbart Lite) made his position clear regarding how Trump should handle the media. Not that Trump hasn’t already been clear that he regards it as a dishonest bunch of sleazy liars. A pro-Trump Twitter user posted a comment that caught Hannity’s eye. It said “CNN, NYT, WaPo & others shown to have colluded by @wikileaks should not receive WH press credentials.” Hannity retweeted it and responded simply “Amen.”

First of all, there have been no WikiLeaks documents revealing any collusion between the news organizations cited. That is just another invented “fact” that fuels so much of the right’s irrational outrage. The truth is that most of the WikiLeaks references to the media exposed nothing but reporters seeking information or interviews. In other words, doing their jobs.

The bigger problem here is the eagerness with which Hannity agreed that it would be proper to deny press credentials to some of the most prominent news enterprises in the country. It is a direct expression of support for punishing media for being critical of the President. That is a blatant breach of the First Amendment and the principle of freedom of the press. The White House press corps is not supposed to be the cheering section for Trump & Company.

For his part, Trump has demonstrated a hostility to the media that borders on psychotic. Journalist organizations have deemed him an unprecedented threat to press freedom. He calls reporters liars, dummies, and sleazy, as he points to them menacingly at his rallies. That has resulted in some reporters becoming targets of assaults. His vitriol has contributed to driving trust of the media to historic lows. And he has already engaged in discriminatory acts that amount to censorship by banning certain reporters from his events. They include the Washington Post, BuzzFeed, Huffington Post, Fusion, Univision, the Des Moines Register, and the New Hampshire Union Leader.

On the other hand, Trump has granted press passes to some unsavory characters who don’t qualify as legitimate media. A notable example is James Edwards of the Political Cesspool blog. Edwards is an unabashed racist who has written favorably about slavery. That’s the sort of “journalist” that makes the grade in Trump’s Ivory Tower. If The Donald’s Politburo has its way only Breitbart News and the National Enquirer would receive credentials.

However, it may not be that easy for them to carry out their purge. Authority over who gets press passes to the White House belongs to the Standing Committee of Correspondents on Capitol Hill. The committee is made up of credentialed congressional reporters. But the White House could still forbid individuals based on informal criteria mainly involving security. Even then, it might encounter opposition from the media and the public if it acted out of partisanship or revenge.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

Hannity’s hypocrisy, however, is both stunning and typical. The same Hannity who now favors punishing “unfriendly” media, used to have seizures if President Obama said anything mildly critical of the press. And this anti-First Amendment view is plainly shared by Trump and his inner circle of autocrats. Without strict oversight of the Trump administration’s tendency toward censorship, it will surely try to poison press relations and access. That could lead to a dangerous situation wherein an aspiring dictator could deceive the nation into creeping tyranny. It has happened before.

John Oliver Trashes Trump As ‘A Klan-Backed Misogynist Internet Troll’

It may be difficult to find the humor in last week’s election results. Americans who are appropriately terrified by the prospect of Donald Trump’s presidency may be in no mood to laugh. However, some comic relief could be just the right medicine for a nation infected by the Great Orange Plague of 2016. And who better to fill that prescription than John Oliver.

John Oliver

In the season finale of his HBO program, Oliver spent the whole show assessing the consequences of Tuesday’s debacle. He began by finding a smidgen of positivity by noticing that the promise of opportunity in this country is still alive. “America proved,” Oliver wryly observed, “that no grandpa is too racist to become leader of the free world.” Only in America. He went on to question the potential causes that led us to the edge of this political cliff:

“How the fuck did we get here? Well clearly, there are many possible answers to that question, including: misleading forecasts that bred complacency; a flawed candidate who failed to appeal to white rural and working-class voters; and — and this is worth repeating — deep racism and/or indifference to it.”

It’s impossible to argue with that assessment, as far as it goes. But Oliver then launched an assault on what is certainly one of the primary factors in Trump’s victory: The Media! He castigated it for having neglected its professional obligations to the public. He was stunned by “how a system that is supposed to catch a serial liar failed.” But he was also aware of the shameful malfeasance of the corporate press hacks who seemed to be oblivious to their ineptitude. He quoted CNN’s president Jeff Zucker:

“I’d say that if we made a mistake last year, it’s that we probably did put on too many of his campaign rallies in those early months, unedited, and just let them run. And I think, in hindsight, we probably shouldn’t have done that as much.”

Is he freakin’ kidding?! Zucker considers that an insightful reflection on his performance as a news executive? Well, how could he have known not to pander to Trump incessantly for hours on end? Other than by having been chastised for it repeatedly while he was doing it. Every respected media analyst was loudly condemning the networks for kowtowing to Trump. If this “mistake” came as a surprise to him he is either totally incompetent or in the last stages of Alzheimer’s disease. More likely he was taking the same approach as a network colleague who at least was honest enough to admit that he was in it for the ratings. Les Moonves of CBS told a media conference that “It may not be good for America, but it’s damn good for CBS.” And that’s the same theory by which all the networks operate. Greed before patriotism.

Oliver went on to urge viewers to “stay here and fight” because the country can no longer assume that we have a president who will “stand up for the rights of all Americans.” And he pegged Trump as deceitful and opportunistic saying that:

“Trump is a masterful denier of both reality and responsibility. He is a man that would kick you in the nuts and then tell you that your penis did it. So the press is gonna face challenges. Not just because Trump’s chief strategist is Stephen Bannon of Breitbart News, but also because of yet another promise that Trump made:

“‘If I become president they are gonna have such problems. Oh, are they gonna have problems. I’m gonna open up our libel laws so when they write purposely negative and horrible and false articles, we can sue them and win lots of money.'”

Let that sink in. Trump, having benefited inordinately from a star-struck press corps, is also threatening to sue them into oblivion. It’s a sort of battered spouse relationship with Trump receiving all the love while meting out the abuse. Unfortunately, that perverse relationship is likely continue as Trump moves into the White House. And Oliver had some closing remarks to make sure that citizens don’t become numbed to the insanity. He urged people to “get actively involved to at least mitigate Trump’s damage” and that:

“It is gonna be too easy for things to start feeling normal, especially if you are someone who is not directly impacted by his actions. So keep reminding yourself: This is not normal. […] because a Klan-backed, misogynist, internet troll is going to be delivering the next State of the Union address. And that is NOT normal! It is FUCKED UP.”

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

CONFIRMED: Fox News Was ‘Nakedly Colluding’ With Donald Trump

File this one under “Things We Already Knew.” Yes, it was painfully obvious that Fox News always had a clear preference for then-presidential hopeful Donald Trump. But until now there hasn’t been such a profoundly forthright admission of their bias.

Megyn Kelly Donald Trump

Fox News host Megyn Kelly has a new book, Settle For More, that contains some surprising revelations about her experiences at work. Among those previously excerpted in the press were her allegations of being a victim of sexual harassment. After a dozen other women revealed their harrowing encounters with the disgraced ex-CEO of Fox News, Roger Ailes, Kelly finally came forward with her own account.

In a similarly late confession, Kelly’s book also exposes a small piece of the political propaganda machine at Fox News. The New York Times received a pre-release copy from which they quoted a section about the Trump campaign. The excerpt describes Kelly’s discovery that someone at Fox was funneling debate questions to Trump:

“Then, the day before the first presidential debate, Mr. Trump was in a lather again, Ms. Kelly writes. He called Fox executives, saying he’d heard that her first question ‘was a very pointed question directed at him.’ This disconcerted her, because it was true: It was about his history of using disparaging language about women.

“She doesn’t speculate where the leak came from. (She reports. You decide.) But that’s another unambiguous takeaway from this book: Parts of Fox — or at the very least, Roger Ailes, the network’s chairman until July, when he was given the boot after several allegations of sexual harassment were made against him — seemed to be nakedly colluding with the Republican presidential nominee.”

There you have it. An eyewitness account of Fox News deliberately interfering with a candidates debate to benefit their chosen one. And the witness isn’t a wild-eyed, liberal, Fox hating, radical. It’s the fastest rising star on the network who is frequently referred to as “the future of Fox News.” So in addition to providing Trump with millions of dollars of free airtime, they were fouling supposedly neutral debate broadcasts.

On one hand, it’s admirable that Kelly includes this in her book. It casts a decidedly negative light on the heavily slanted editorial processes at Fox. On the other hand, she failed her obligations as a “journalist” by not saying anything when it occurred. The fact that a candidate was receiving tips on the questions for an upcoming debate is big news. And Kelly certainly agrees with that principle. She made a big deal about the exact same accusation when it was aimed at Democratic operative Donna Brazile.

In a stolen email released by WikiLeaks, Brazile made comments that implied that she had advance knowledge of a debate question and passed it on to the Clinton campaign. Kelly even raised this issue in an interview with Brazile wherein she asked “Can you imagine if this were a Republican had been fed a question by Fox News? You know, the different reaction we’d be seeing in the media?”

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

Yes, we do know, and we don’t have to use our imagination. The reaction on Fox News would be to cover it up until a for-profit book tour could be scheduled. So Trump got away with colluding with Fox News to help him in a debate. And Kelly got a juicy morsel of gossip with which to promote her book. It’s a win-win – for deceitful propagandists and dishonest TV hosts. And, of course, for ignorant, racist, xenophobic, misogynist, narcissistic, wannabe dictators.

Watch Bill Maher Passionately Beg The Media To – ‘Do Your F**KING Job!’

In the waning days of this surreal election year, tempers are fraying beyond cognitive sustainability. For those with functioning brain stems, just the thought of Donald Trump as president is unfathomable. There is simply no sane explanation for this narcissistic wannabe dictator even being competitive in the race for leader of the free world. At least not without contorting the imagination into a bizarro glob of Silly Putty.

Bill Maher

No one knows this better than comedian and social observer Bill Maher. But the the strain is even beginning to show on him. In Friday’s episode of his HBO program Real Time, he is obviously at his breaking point with regard to the election and the media’s coverage of it. After noting some examples of the absurd obsession the press has for irrelevancies and false equivalence, Maher explodes. He stares directly into the camera and shouts “Media – Do your fucking job!”

That’s a sentiment that many have been expressing for more than a year. The American people watched with confusion as cable news surrendered their air to Trump’s rambling, racist diatribes. Hour after hour, Trump ranted incoherently with no balance from opposing candidates or the press. And as the campaign wore on, allegedly professional journalists treated Trump’s ignorance and hate-speech as if it were acceptable political discourse.

Maher addressed these failings with the sharpness of a properly jaded humorist. For example:

“The FBI says Americans should look out for terror attacks on Monday. They said they would do it, but they’re so busy with Hillary’s emails from 2009.”

And:

“A terrorist attack – that would be such a nightmare scenario. To watch terrorists ruin our election after all the work Russia has put into doing that.”

Maher noted that “We have reached peak insanity.” What’s really troubling is that that may be an understatement. He also noticed the disturbing relationship between Trump and Russia that the media mostly ignores:

“Republicans are trying to elect a sexually assaulting psychopath who, if not a Russian agent, is unwittingly working as one. And people in America are saying “Well, it’s better than Hillary.” No it’s F**KING not!”

Watch the video below and rest in the knowledge that you are not alone. If you believe a candidate for president who aligns himself with hostile foreign nations is treasonous, you are not alone. If you are feeling overwhelmed by the unconscionable negligence of the media, you are not alone. After November 8, there will be time to recharge and then to focus on these problems. Hopefully we can have some impact before the next election. In the meantime…let’s laugh at our pain.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

HUSH MONEY: National Enquirer Paid 150K To Cover Up Trump’s ‘Affair’ With A Playboy Model

FBI insiders have spent much of the past week leaking dubious data about Hillary Clinton to Donald Trump’s campaign. It’s a horrifying state of affairs that implicates the agency in election tampering. Meanwhile, salacious information about Donald Trump is getting quashed by his pals in the tabloid media. The Wall Street Journal is reporting that:

“The company that owns the National Enquirer (AMI), a backer of Donald Trump, agreed to pay $150,000 to a former Playboy centerfold model for her story of an affair a decade ago with the Republican presidential nominee, but then didn’t publish it, according to documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal and people familiar with the matter.”

Melania and Donald Trump

Karen McDougal, the 1998 Playmate of the Year, has told friends she was romantically involved with Trump in 2006. He was married to his current wife Melania at the time. The Journal’s sources said that McDougal expected her story to be published, but that AMI never intended to run it. From the beginning it was a means of killing a story that was potentially damaging to Trump’s presidential aspirations.

Imagine that. A sensationalistic supermarket tabloid declining to publish a sex-drenched scandal about a prominent public figure. It has all the elements of the model story for the Enquirer. But even after the Access Hollywood tapes were released and a dozen other women accused Trump of sexual harassment and/or assault, the Enquirer kept the lid on their blockbuster scoop. Why would they do that?

Maybe because David Pecker, publisher of the Enquirer, is a long-time personal friend of Trump and supports his candidacy. He has used his paper to advance Trump’s campaign and attack his opponents. For instance, the Enquirer published a story alleging that Ted Cruz’s father was an accomplice to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Another article purported to expose “Hillary Clinton’s Secret Health Crisis.”

On the other hand, the Enquirer published a series of glowing homages to Trump. These tributes were about, and written by, The Donald with the audacious title “The Man Behind the Legend.” And Trump returned the drooling adoration by publicly wondering why the skeevy tabloid never got a Pulitzer Prize.

The Enquirer denies that they deliberately bought McDougal’s story to kill it. They claim they were paying for her to write fitness columns and to appear on magazine covers. However, the paper never published a single column or photo of her during the two year term of the agreement. There was also an ambiguously worded provision granting AMI the exclusive rights to “any romantic, personal and/or physical relationship McDougal has ever had with any then-married man.” That certainly would have covered Donald Trump without the nastiness of saying so outright.

These are among the benefits of having a media entity in your pocket. You can get them to zealously praise you and to bitterly malign your foes. And you can also have them snatch up lingering problems from your sordid past and prevent them from ever seeing the light of day.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

Donald Trump is fond of attacking the media in the most vile manner. He has literally made it dangerous to cover his campaign rallies. Many news organizations have had their press credentials revoked when they did something that displeased him. And prominent journalism organizations have condemned his overt threats to freedom of the press. But in his world the National Enquirer is a Pulitzer-worthy publisher that will come to his rescue when needed.

BUSTED: Trump’s Campaign Boss Tied To FBI’s Review Of The Clinton Foundation

The FBI has come under sustained and deserved criticism for the past week due to public pronouncements regarding Hillary Clinton. They demonstrated a blatant double standard by releasing vague but damaging statements about Clinton a few days before an election. Those statements have allowed Clinton’s opponents to smear her, but leave her little of substance to rebut. However, the FBI refused to discuss investigations of Donald Trump’s shady connections to Russia saying that it’s too close to an election.

Comey Trump

Now the New York Times is reporting that the FBI’s inquiry into the Clinton Foundation was built on discredited reporting by a well-known anti-Clinton hack. The Times writes that the FBI’s case:

“…had not developed much evidence and was based mostly on information that had surfaced in news stories and the book ‘Clinton Cash,’ according to several law enforcement officials briefed on the case.”

In addition, CNN is reporting that internal discussions within the FBI debated whether to proceed with an investigation into the Clinton Foundation. However, according to CNN “Officials leading the meeting told the FBI that investigators hadn’t turned up much more evidence beyond that contained in ‘Clinton Cash.'” In other words, the whole affair was turning out to be a big nothingburger.

Some background is required on the book that the FBI has apparently embraced as the cornerstone of their inquisition. Clinton Cash was published last year as an attempt to connect donations to the Clinton Foundation with the personal finances of the Clintons. The book was harshly criticized for containing numerous factual errors and failing to document its thesis.

For instance, the book alleged that Clinton played a “central role” in approving the sale of a uranium company. It further alleged that she did so in return for a donation to the Clinton Foundation. In fact, the records show that Clinton didn’t weigh in on the matter at all. What’s more, the sale required the approval of nine different federal agencies, so Clinton’s participation would have had minimal impact. The book’s author later admitted in an ABC News interview that he had no evidence to substantiate his charge. That’s just one of many examples of the author’s dishonesty.

And speaking of the author, he is a long-time Republican activist named Peter Schweizer. His resume boasts stints with Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, and George W. Bush. He has a history of making false allegations that often require retractions. One of his previous books was saddled with this audacious and absurd title: “Makers and Takers: Why Conservatives Work Harder, Feel Happier, Have Closer Families, Take Fewer Drugs, Give More Generously, Value Honesty More, Are Less Materialistic And Envious, Whine Less…And Even Hug Their Children More Than Liberals.” And…inhale.

Schweizer may seem like a peculiar choice for the FBI to hinge their case on. But wait up – it gets worse. Schweizer is also the president of a conservative “think” tank called the Government Accountability Institute (GAI). The GAI conducts studies that have about the same low level of credibility as Schweizer’s books. It’s purpose is to stream their poorly-sourced, partisan propaganda into the media. The chairman and founder of GAI is Stephen Bannon. Bannon is currently on leave from his job as chairman of Breitbart News so that he can run Donald Trump’s campaign for president.

So in summary, the FBI is basing their Clinton case on a widely debunked book, written by a disreputable Clinton foe, whose boss is a right-wing propagandist, and the CEO of Trump’s campaign. You may want to go back and read that sentence again slowly. It describes a severely maladjusted law enforcement agency that is improperly politicizing its work.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

And if that weren’t enough, recall that the Times also mentioned news reports as among the FBI’s sources. Presumably they are referring to reports like the hour-long special Fox News did on Schweizer’s book. It’s one thing when dimwitted wingnuts fall for malarkey from people like Schweizer and Fox News. But it’s much more depressing – and dangerous – when the FBI does it.

Fox News PANICS Over New Voter Fraud Plot They TOTALLY Made Up

Seeking to prop up Donald Trump’s frantic and baseless cries of a “rigged” election, Fox News has their fiction writers working overtime. This morning on Fox & Friends the “Curvy Couch” potatoes invited Betsy McCaughey to expound on a new theory. McCaughey is best known for having coined the term “death panels” which Sarah Palin made famous. It became PolitiFact’s Lie of the Year for 2009.

Fox News

McCaughey’s latest fiction is the charge that perennial wingnut boogieman, George Soros, is clandestinely maneuvering to steal the election from Trump. The plot alleges that voting machines manufactured by a company he controls are being used across the country. Fox host Steve Doocy lays out the conspiracy in a typically hysterical fashion (video below):

Doocy: “Donald Trump has made the rigged system a centerpiece in his campaign. And now there are new concerns after a report showing that 16 U.S. states, 16 of them, have used voting machines tied to leftist billionaire George Soros in the past […] tied directly to George Soros and his personal quest for open borders.”

McCaughey: “That’s right. This really bears investigating. Because Smartmatic, this UK company, one of the top guns there, Lord Mallach-Brown, is very involved with George Soros’ left-wing globalist enterprises, many of which are trying to tilt elections in Europe and in the United States.”

Sounds scary, doesn’t it? And it would be except for the fact that none of it is true. Soros has no financial involvement with Smartmatic whatsoever, and never has. The actual owner sits on the board of Soros’ Open Society Foundation along with dozens of other board members. That hardly equates to a direct connection to the voting machine manufacturer. But that didn’t stop distraught Trump supporters from launching a petition on the White House website demanding that Congress “meet in emergency session about removing George Soros owned voting machines.” At the time of this writing it had 89,000 signatures, on its way to a goal of 100,000.

However, that’s not even the most ridiculous part of this lame attempt at scandal mongering. The Smartmatic machines in question are not being used in the United States at all. Not a single one will be used in any state in the 2016 election. So Fox News, and nearly 90,000 crackpot conservatives, are incensed and determined to rid America of something that doesn’t exist.

Not satisfied with making unhinged allegations about voting, Mcaughey continued her rant to assert that mentally ill and homeless people are being paid to cause violence at Trump events. She doesn’t bother to provide any proof of that, and Doocy doesn’t ask for any. She further claims that:

“There is already an airtight case against Soros trying to tilt this election, steal this election, using his money. He’s very close to Hillary Clinton. He is pouring millions of dollars into third party organizations like the Super PAC, Priorities USA.”

To be clear, McCaughey is now criticizing the Super PACs that were set loose by the Supreme Court’s Citizen’s United decision. Welcome to the progressive movement, Betsy. Liberals have been fighting that decision for years. But don’t expect her to have the same sense of outrage over the Koch brothers or the many other financiers of right-wing PACs. For the record, Soros’ own son started a Super Pac to end Super PACs.

What we can expect is for Fox News to get ever more absurd with far-fetched fairy tales in the few remaining days of this campaign. They are desperate and morose and ready to fling themselves off of rooftops. So maybe they can be forgiven for exhibiting signs of acute dementia.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.