In recent days Fox News has ramped up coverage of the Philadelphia trial of an abortion doctor accused of numerous horrific crimes. To be clear, the spike in coverage was not about the underlying facts of the case or the suffering of the patients. It was about Fox’s contention that the prosecution has been ignored by a liberal press corps for political reasons.
First of all, we need to set aside the false notion that the media has any incentive to suppress reporting on this case due to a liberal bias. The alleged criminal acts committed by this doctor run counter to the values of the pro-choice community whose position is that restrictions on safe and legal reproductive services are what is responsible for creating the conditions from which rogue clinics like this one emerge in the first place.
However, for Fox to get huffy about a media blackout orchestrated by liberals stretches the boundaries of hypocrisy. On numerous segments in the past week Fox has castigated other media outlets for not having covered this trial. The problem with that complaint is that Fox hasn’t covered it either. Nevertheless, Bret Baier hosted a segment of his “Special Report” wherein he read off a list of the offenders in the press who have ignored this story. Conspicuously absent from the list was Fox News. If Fox had indeed reported the story, they would certainly have included the number of times on their graphic to shame their competitors. They left themselves off because their performance was no different than the rest.
In another example of Fox’s self-serving spin, they posted a photo of the seating area in the courtroom that was reserved for the media. The fact that there was no one sitting there was evidence to Fox that the press was negligent and biased. However, also revealed by the photo was that no one from Fox News was sitting there either. They presumably thought that that little detail would just slip by unnoticed by their viewers (and they were probably right. Their viewers are not known for their intellectual prowess).
Clearly Fox’s editorial decision-making is drenched with bias and self-promotion. We can easily ascertain what is important to the network by their programming choices, and apparently the Philly doctor’s trial was not important to Fox. So what was important?
Fox’s closest competitor in the ratings is MSNBC. In the months following the election MSNBC has demonstrated surprising growth while Fox has lost audience share, slipping to levels it has not seen since 2001 (although still maintaining its lead). Consequently, Fox has resumed their onslaught against MSNBC which they escalate whenever they feel threatened.
The latest attack by Fox deals with a promo that MSNBC ran in support of their weekend anchor Melissa Harris-Perry. The promo features Harris-Perry delivering an uncontroversial commentary about the value of society investing in education and child welfare. To Fox, that commonly held principle of a unified family of American citizens was tantamount to Maoist socialism. Fox blanketed their airwaves with exasperated outrage day and night over this 30 second ad. In fact, as reported by MSNBC’s Chris Hayes, Fox committed more than 15 times the airtime to MSNBC’s promo than MSNBC did.
In conclusion, an analysis of the distribution of time allocated to content tells us that Fox is obviously more concerned about how MSNBC advertises its own programs than they are about heinous criminal activity. And when their attention is drawn to the heinous crimes, they only seem to care about how other media reports it (ignoring their own failures), and not the crime itself or the victims. Remember this the next time you hear Fox complaining about not being taken seriously as credible journalists.
This weekend the Fox News farce “News Watch” featured its customary panel of four slobbering ultra-rightists and one alleged Democrat. This week’s lefty lamb was Kirsten Powers, who did her job of pretending to be a liberal while denigrating everything liberals stand for.
In a segment about an NPR story on wasteful spending for disability programs, the discussion suddenly veered off course to attack Media Matters with the program’s host, Jon Scott, calling it “that liberal media watchdog group funded by George Soros.” Scott complained that Media Matters had “a problem” with NPR’s report because “it has become fodder for the right wing.”
Right off the bat it should be noted that Jon Scott, whom Fox inexplicably installed as host of a media analysis show, is the Republican Party’s man at Fox News. He was caught red-handed (by Media Matters) reading “news” copy that had been cribbed, word for word, from an RNC press release.
Scott also suffers from a malady that has infected most of Fox News that could be called “Soros Tourettes Syndrome.” Its primary symptom is the uncontrollable shouting out of the name George Soros whenever some organization is mentioned that he might have made a donation to in the past five decades. Given that he is a well known billionaire philanthropist, that’s a pretty long list. In this case. Soros did make a donation to Media Matters exactly one time two years ago, which hardly puts the organization in his pocket. What Scott failed to report was that NPR, whom Scott is alleging was attacked by the Soros-funded Media Matters, also received a hefty donation from Soros. In fact, it was nearly twice what he gave to Media Matters. So Scott seems to think that Soros is attacking one of his front groups with another.
Which brings us to fake Democrat Kirsten Powers. When asked about the NPR affair, she detoured to make this baseless observation: “I just want to say first of all, Media Matters is not a legitimate organization. And they do not exist to be a media watchdog group.” She provided no support whatsoever for her allegation, however, it was enough to attract the adoring gaze of Breitbart’s John Nolte. He posted a short item fawning over Powers for her “honesty” and gushed “I disagree with Powers on almost everything, but she’s good people.”
The assertion that BreitBrat John had substantive disagreements with Powers struck me as peculiar given her overt conservative leanings. So I looked up some previous references to her on the Breitbart web site for evidence of how starkly their opinions differed. This is what I found:
Liberal Kirsten Powers Fights Back Against Obama’s War on Fox News
Kirsten Powers: Obama Nominating Rice As Secretary Of State ‘Would Be His Undoing’
Kirsten Powers: Obama’s ‘You Didn’t Build That” Comments Offended Me Too
Kirsten Powers: What Did Obama Know and When Did He Know It?
Kirsten Powers: ‘Obviously, There’s A Bias Behind’ Cable News Not Covering Catholic Lawsuit Against Obama
Liberal Pundit Powers: Obama Removing Work Requirement From Welfare Huge Issue For Romney
Liberal Columnist: Double Standard In Media’s Attack On Rush
These were just the articles that referenced Powers in the headlines. There were many more plaudits for her on the site within various articles. So all of this admiration and accord raises an obvious question. When Nolte says that he disagrees with Powers on “almost everything,” what the hell is he talking about?
Powers is plainly another right-wing plant in the Fox News garden. She consistently rips the President and other Democrats and rarely offers enthusiastic praise or defense for progressive policy or people. She is only on Fox representing the left because Fox couldn’t get Ann Coulter to do it believably. But Powers is in the same conservative bag as Coulter, even going so far as to outrageously accuse Obama of sympathizing with terrorists. No wonder BreitBrat John is so infatuated.
Police investigating the shootings at the Sandy Hook school in Newtown, Connecticut, released a stack of documents today that reveal many previously undisclosed details about the crime and the perpetrator, Adam Lanza. Among the items made available to the press were inventories of a well-stocked cache of weapons and ammunition, a variety of notebooks and journals, and various computers, books, and gaming devices.
Also disclosed in the warrants were materials from the National Rifle Association including an NRA booklet on the “Basics of Pistol Shooting” and a certificate from the NRA in Lanza’s name.
Curiously, when Fox News broadcast a story on these documents they omitted any reference to the NRA items listed therein. Reporter Rick Leventhal had sufficient time to note that Lanza was an avid gamer, but he said nothing about the NRA. The report even included prepared graphics with three screen-fulls of bullet-pointed lists of the contents of the documents, but no mention of those related to the NRA.
Either Fox News doesn’t think that the presence of NRA training books and certificates are relevant to the story (although samurai swords and books on autism are), or they are deliberately protecting the NRA from the bad publicity that could result from disclosing all the facts.
This casts a whole new light on Fox’s slogan, “We report. You decide.” Perhaps it should read “We report some things but withhold those that reflect poorly on our ideological allies. You decide based on the censored set of ‘facts’ we choose to reveal.”
The result of this sort of journalistic chicanery is that viewers will always make decisions based on the prejudices imposed by Fox’s editors and reporters. Ironically, their overtly biased story construction only makes matters worse. Were they to have included the information about the NRA, they could have also pointed out that the NRA cannot be held responsible for crimes committed by anyone who purchases their books or takes their training courses. However, by omitting the facts completely, Fox makes it appear that the NRA has something to be embarrassed by and that they benefit from Fox’s malfeasance. Perhaps they are even complicit in influencing Fox to alter their reporting.
In the end, it is just another reason that Fox viewers are so grossly ill-informed and hold views that widely diverge from the majority of Americans who have a more common sense perspective on gun safety issues and many other political and social matters. It explains the existence of the Fox Bubble World and the pathetic drones who reside therein.
It’s more difficult being a shill for ultra-conservative propaganda than you might think. On the surface it appears to be merely an exercise in fabricating false narratives and phony scandals. Any two-bit, dime-store, novelist can whip up a salacious melodrama in short order and disseminate it to a gullible flock of lemmings.
However, to be really good at shaping fantastical versions of unreality, you need to be alert and organized to prevent your plot lines from getting away and destroying the illusions you worked so hard to create.
One of the techniques that Fox News has perfected is to broadcast a slanderous allegation as widely as possible when it is no more than a wispy speculation. Then, after it is discovered that the whole affair was constructed from lies and innuendo, simply neglect to ever bring it up again.
This was expertly demonstrated recently when Fox News participated in blowing up a smear job aimed at Democratic Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey. The story sprung from the right-wing Internet rag, The Daily Caller, which happens to be run by Fox News flunky, Tucker Carlson. TheDC purported to have evidence that Menendez hired prostitutes in the Dominican Republic and ran several articles on the subject. Fox News and other right-wing media picked up the story and turned it into a mini-scandal that erupted in the closing days of Menendez’s reelection campaign.
However, in the past couple of weeks the story has disintegrated as the prostitutes were questioned by police and recanted their statements, even going so far as to confess that they were paid to make false statements incriminating Menendez. And last week the deceit escalated as the man on whom TheDC based its story changed his tune and told the Domincan district attorney that he too was paid – by TheDC – to find and coach the prostitutes.
In the wake of these revelations, Media Matters has scoured Fox News for any sign of a retraction, correction, or apology, or even just an acknowledgement of the new disclosures. But for some reason, the network that aired segments of this story twenty times has ignored it completely since it has been debunked.
This is nothing new for Fox. Here are some additional stories where they heavily hyped questionable reporting that reflected poorly on Democrats or anyone to the left of center, only to scuttle the matter when it backfired on them:
Fox News gleefully pounces on any hint of scandal involving a competing news enterprise, but when their parent corporation News Corp was found to have hacked hundreds of phones, including one belonging to a murdered schoolgirl, Fox feverishly ran from the story, even agreeing on the air not to question Rupert Murdoch about it.
Fox News ran multiple stories about donors to Democratic candidates with implications of some dubious relationship, but when Rupert Murdoch gave $1 million to the Republican Governor’s Association and the right-wing U.S. Chamber of Commerce, it was not considered newsworthy.
There has been no shortage of reporting by Fox that negatively frames the issue of marriage equality, but when a Republican senator, Rob Portman, announces that because of his gay son he now supports it, Fox nearly ignores the subject entirely.
One of Fox’s favorite stories of the past several years involved the videos of James O’Keefe, whose editing was deliberately misleading and dishonest, but when one of his victims, Juan Carlos Vera, forced O’Keefe into a $100,000 settlement, Fox abstained from reporting it.
Perhaps the most significant news story in last year’s election was the release of the infamous “47% video” wherein Mitt Romney admitted that he didn’t much care about half of the country. When the identity of the man who made the video, Scott Prouty, was finally made public, Fox chose not cover the news. Well, other than to report that Prouty might have been delinquent on his taxes (which Prouty denied).
The behavior of Fox News is less like a journalistic organization than a frightened ostrich who sticks its head in the sand to avoid confronting what it fears. This pattern of blaring disparaging news aimed at Democrats, and cowering when that news is discovered to be false, reflects the cynical attitude of an enterprise that doesn’t care about accuracy or ethics. Fox simply wants to take a sledgehammer to their ideological foes, and if the tables turn, Fox slips away hoping that no one will notice.
It’s even worse, however, than what one might expect for an anxious ostrich. When Fox buries its hyperbolic head it isn’t immersed in a cavernous darkness. Rather, it sees more of the fictional world it created for itself. Fox, and it’s glassy-eyed audience, remains blissfully unaware of realities that the rest of take for granted. That’s why they were so astonished by the results of last November’s election that they were certain would result in a Romney landslide. It’s why they think that Benghazi is the biggest scandal since Watergate although the facts fail to indicate even a hint of wrongdoing. And it’s why a boneheaded congressional creature that has come to be known as the “Sequester” can threaten to wreak havoc for the economy and produce tens of thousands of personal hardships, but the big takeaway for Fox is that there may be a suspension of White House tours.
Living in the Fox bubble must be an endlessly painful experience. In case after case they are jolted by news that is at odds with the fragile pseudo-reality that cloaks them. But the most intriguing question has got to be: When will they cast it off? How many times must they get burned before they learn?
A lot has happened in the ten years that have transpired since George W. Bush and Dick Cheney orchestrated an unlawful assault, based on lies, on the nation and people of Iraq. More than four thousand American soldiers have died. Tens of thousands more have been disabled physically and psychologically. And hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians were killed. All of this was accomplished for a mere two trillion dollars courtesy of the American people.
So how does Fox News commemorate the solemn anniversary of the day that Bush commenced a campaign of mass murder against a nation that had done us no harm? By sending reporter James Rosen to the White House to beg for “credit” to be given to the Bush administration for their unfounded aggression and incompetence.
Rosen: Just to follow up on the discussion of the Iraq War, none of us wants to plunge ourselves into counterfactual histories about “what if” and so all we have is the record of what did occur and when you stand here and tell us that Iraq today now has the option for a chance for a much better future than the past, that is only a matter of factual history only possible because President Bush decided to launch this war and send all these heroic service men and women into this mission. And so if credit is due to the service men and women, it seems to me that — a matter of logic that some credit must also be due to President Bush and his advisers and that on this occasion, do you not see it that way?
Rosen is regarded by Fox defenders as one of the network’s legitimate journalists, in contrast to the right-wing mouthpieces (O’Reilly, Hannity, Cavuto, Doocy, etc.) who host the network’s more overtly biased programs. However, this question illustrates how Fox infects their allegedly “straight reporting” with partisanship even as they pretend to be fair and balanced. Beseeching the White House press secretary to lay praise on a former political foe is not an appropriate role for a professional journalist. It is closer to the services provided by a public relations rep.
What’s more, Rosen’s assertion that it’s a “matter of logic” that Bush be given credit is not remotely logical. Rosen is soliciting credit for Bush’s decision to go to war based on the outcome produced by the military. But those are two different things. Bush’s decision making was flawed and dishonest, and it is not redeemed simply because our side won. That only means that we have an effective military, not that the decision to use them in this matter was wise or praiseworthy. Press Secretary Jay Carney touches on these distinctions in his response, but later appears to humor Rosen in an attempt to move the briefing along.
Carney: James I would simply take up your first proposition that engaging in counterfactuals about what might have happened had we not gone to war in search of Weapons of Mass Destruction that didn’t exist, what would’ve happened? [...] It is impossible to know obviously what course would’ve occurred in Iraq had the inspections regime continued had different choices been made.
Rosen: But it sounds to me listening to you that for what you call the “welcome development” of Saddam Hussein being gone, you are unwilling to accord President George W. Bush even a single iota of credit for that development.
Carney: I’m happy to do that, James. I think the focus on doing that is unique here, in this briefing. There is no question that Saddam Hussein was removed from power thanks to the military efforts of U.S. armed forced and they were sent Iraq by President Bush. So, obviously, there is a causal relationship and to the extent that credit is due, credit is due to him for that. That does not change I think assessments made by this President as a candidate or by many others on this day – 10 years after – about the judgments made to go to war on Iraq, to invade the country.
I am also happy to give Bush credit. He is entitled to every bit of credit for having committed atrocities and war crimes. He deserves credit for the slaughter of the innocent and the brave and for the grief of the survivors. The credit is all his for brazenly lying to the American people and the world about weapons of mass destruction that didn’t exist. He has earned the credit for bankrupting our nation with drastic tax cuts for the rich during a time of war, the first time in history that has occurred. And all he has to show for it is a hollow sense of pride in having rid the world of Saddam Hussein, which makes this a two trillion dollar assassination contract on an aging, third-rate dictator.
Just as Rosen said, the tragic consequences of this regrettable misadventure were “only possible because President Bush decided to launch this war.” So congratulations Mr. Bush. The credit is all yours. And wasn’t it thoughtful of Fox News to ensure that the honor for all the turmoil and death you produced was rightfully placed at your feet?
It’s bad enough that Fox News is compulsively disposed to lying about President Obama and anyone else who challenges their hyper-conservative dogma, but when they resort to lying about the product of their own reporting it’s an indication of something gone terribly askew. This is the sort of brazen deceit that Fox usually reserves for their notorious Fib Factory, Fox Nation.
Fox News just published the results of their polling wherein they asked respondents whether they would prefer a budget deal that reduced the deficit with spending cuts or with tax increases. The question itself was grossly biased in that it implies that there are proposals to avert sequestration by raising taxes. However, neither party is proposing any tax increases in the current negotiations, only the closing of loopholes to which both sides had previously agreed. Setting that aside, Fox posted its account of the poll results with a headline reading “Voters Say Cuts Are ‘Only Way’ to Control Deficit.”
That’s an interesting (i.e. thoroughly dishonest) interpretation of the poll’s actual results which found that respondents preferred deficit reduction by focusing…
Only on cutting government spending: 33%
Mostly on cutting spending, and a small number of tax increases: 19%
On an equal mix of spending cuts and tax increases: 36%
Only on adding further tax increases 7%
It doesn’t take a master statistician to recognize that the choice of most respondents was the “equal mix.” How Fox concluded that they preferred cutting spending as the “only way” is mysterious and unexplained. Furthermore, if you total all the choices that included at least some tax increases there is a clear majority (67%) in favor of adding revenue rather than spending cuts alone. In other words, it’s the exact opposite of what Fox is reporting. If Fox doesn’t like what their own poll says, maybe they shouldn’t publish the results. Apparently, flagrantly lying in order to misrepresent the truth is more their style.
Some additional results from the survey include: Obama’s favorability is at 51%. His job approval is at 46%, compared to congress which is at 16%, with a jaw-dropping 77% disapproving. Digging deeper into those numbers reveals that the disapproval of congress cuts across party lines with Democrats registering a negative 72%. Republicans like congress even less with 79% disapproving. And at 82%, Independents really hate them.
Fox also measured the favorability of several other notable figures, all of whom scored lower than the President. Obama: 51%; Pope Benedict: 45%; John Kerry: 43%; Marco Rubio: 31%; John Boehner: 23%; And Chuck Hagel: 17%. Note that all of the Republicans in Fox’s poll sit at the bottom of the list.
Finally, for some reason Fox included a curious question not asked by many other pollsters:
“Former President George W. Bush stopped golfing after the start of the Iraq war. Do you think President Barack Obama should stop golfing until the unemployment rate improves and the economy is doing better?”
First of all, it’s somewhat grotesque to juxtapose a lackluster economy with the deadly consequences of war. That said, respondents apparently don’t care much whether Obama goes golfing or not. Forty-three percent answered that he should stow his clubs, but 45% say he should go ahead and play. And for the record, Bush did not stop golfing after the Iraq war began in March of 2003, so the question is misleading from the outset. But more to the point, reports documented that Bush continued to hit the links well into October. And even after he did quit golfing, he engaged in other leisurely pastimes like biking and his personal passion for clearing brush.
A recent study was conducted by the University of California at San Francisco that uncovered a connection between the astroturf Tea Party movement and wealthy lobbyists for Big Tobacco. The study documented how tobacco interests formed an organization called Citizens for a Sound Economy in 2002 and later split it into the Tea Party organizers FreedomWorks and Americans for Prosperity.
Unable to dispute the facts exposed by the study, Fox News published an article attacking the funding which came from the National Cancer Institute, a subsidiary of the National Institutes of Health. The Fox headline blared “Taxpayer dollars used to fund study attempting to link Tea Party to tobacco lobby.”
The entire premise of the article was a transparent defense of the Tea Party, which Fox also helped to create. In fact, without their relentless promotion and free airtime there would have been no Tea Party at all. But having no case to make against the findings of the study, Fox went after a peripheral issue in an attempt to change the subject to the funding source. What they failed to realize is that university studies frequently receive grants from government agencies, particularly those that research public health.
The UCSF study was in no way designed to attack the Tea Party. It was looking into the manner in which the tobacco industry advanced their mission to market their deadly products. It just so happened that the Tea Party connection was unveiled during the course of the study. That connection should not surprise anyone considering that the Tea Party’s first major protest activity was centered on blocking public health care, something the tobacco lobby has opposed for decades because it educated consumers about the dangers of smoking.
The faux outrage now being expressed by Fox does nothing to counter the findings in the study. What it does is chastise institutions who engage in research that benefits the public. By attacking the funding sources Fox is advocating a form of academic censorship and trampling on the free expression of the researchers. It’s rather ironic in that the Tea Party rightists often rail about the interference of big government, but in this incident they are eager to allow the government to dictate to independent institutions what they are, and are not, permitted to study.
If Fox were a legitimate news enterprise they might have chosen to run a story about the merits and/or flaws of the study rather than try to discredit it with snide insinuations that raise phony suspicions about the funding. But since they are Fox they typically chose to trash whatever it is that they regard as contrary to their conservative prejudices, even if their argument makes no sense and contradicts their own principles.
“The president likes to divide people into groups. He’s too busy getting the middle class to hate rich people, blacks to hate whites. He is busy trying to get everybody to hate each other. We need to get along.”
That’s the first quote in a New Republic article profiling Fox News CEO Roger Ailes and his latest project to deceive and exploit America’s growing Latino community. And it frames the the rest of the article perfectly by illustrating just how delusional Ailes is if he thinks people are going to buy his Rodney King act.
Roger Ailes is, without peer, the most divisive media figure in America. His stewardship of Fox News brought us Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, and Sarah Palin. He presides over a ship of fools, liars, and racists who rip apart the fabric of this diverse nation, and now he wants us to believe our literally multiracial president is the source of our division and that Ailes genuinely wants us all to get along?
The truth is that Ailes has belatedly realized that the patently offensive portrayal of Latinos as illegal, drug-using, job-stealing, criminals, has had a negative effect on both the Republican Party’s electoral prospects and the network’s bottom line. So not long ago he added a web page to the Fox News site aimed at pandering to this audience while he continued to insult them daily on Fox News. The obvious contradiction was apparent in how the two entities covered the same story.
Note the Latino site’s adorable child draped in an American flag, and the Fox Nation site’s “illegals” handcuffed on the ground. That editorial disparity is evidence of Ailes’ intent to manipulate people for whom he clearly has no respect. And manipulation is at the core of the next quote:
“The fact is, we have a lot — Republicans have a lot more opportunity for them. If I’m going to risk my life to run over the fence to get into America, I want to win. I think Fox News will articulate that.”
Notice how Ailes started to say “we have a lot,” then switched to “Republicans have a lot,” having caught himself nearly admitting that Fox is indeed the Republican network. And his assertion that Fox will articulate a message that they want the people they characterize as invading moochers to be more successful in that pursuit is ludicrous. Ailes isn’t the least bit interested in moderating the rhetoric on immigration, despite his remarks to the New Republic:
“Republicans haven’t used the right language. They keep talking about illegal immigration. I think the word ‘illegal immigration’ is a false name. You are talking about two separate issues. One is sovereignty….Immigration is a separate issue.”
That is just gibberish. It’s Ailes’ way of justifying a position that discriminates and insults Latinos and ignores entirely that his network is the only major news enterprise that still regularly calls undocumented workers “illegals.” If he honestly objected to the term he could simply instruct his employees to discontinue the use of it. He hasn’t done that because he still regards them as illegals and he knows that his audience does as well. At least the Fox News audience. Now he also has to worry about the Fox News Latino audience and, according to the New Republic, he persists in clinging to the demonstrably false notion that there is no difference in the way they handle their reporting.
“There’s an assumption that Fox News Latino is softer on Latinos than Fox News in general. That’s ridiculous.”
For Ailes to support that view he would have to explain all the documented examples of Fox News Latino reporting stories in a relatively fair manner while the Fox mothership was blatantly disparaging and downright racist.
Ailes may have intended this New Republic piece to be a bit of PR to advance his campaign for Latino dollars and votes, but his own words betray the disrespect he has for the Latino community. And if he thinks he can fool them into thinking that his transparently self-serving Fox News Latino web site absolves him of any responsibility for the hatred oozing from the rest of his news empire, he really doesn’t understand people, and he will be sorely disappointed when he discovers that they are not as stupid as he thinks they are.
It was announced last week that GOP Sen. Rand Paul will be giving the “official” Tea Party response to President Obama’s State of the Union address. In previous years it was Herman Cain and Michelle Bachmann (who CNN carried live).
There hasn’t been any indication yet of whether the media will carry Paul’s response live, but it should be noted that to do so would be a total farce. There is no such thing as the Tea Party. It is simply a fringe wing of the Republican Party. Rand Paul is, of course, a Republican. He represents the views of the rest of his party, as well as those of the person giving the official GOP response to the President, Marco Rubio (who is also a Tea Partier).
What this means is that the GOP is trying to get two bites of the post-SOTU apple. The media should not fall for this ruse. Paul was even quoted on CNN as saying that his remarks would not be competing with Rubio’s and would just be “extra.” Therefore, coverage of his comments would only serve to double up the opposition to Obama’s speech.
The Tea Party has recently sunk to new lows in support from the American people. Their caucus in congress is much smaller than that of the Democrats Progressive Caucus (Tea Party, 49; Progressive, 71), despite having more Republicans in the House.
If the media is intent on giving undeserved attention to the Tea Party, fairness would require them to give equal time to a progressive response. Perhaps they could invite Bernie Sanders to respond to the President. He would surely articulate a message that differs from the administration in greater measure than Paul would differ from Rubio. Or maybe they could call on Carolyn Maloney, whose advocacy of reforms for gun safety would be a timely subject.
In any case, it would be unethical for the media to grant an unpopular fringe group the opportunity to propagandize the nation when they already have an official spokesman in Rubio. And if they did so without balancing the coverage by presenting a progressive response it would affirm their right-wing bias. Will the media act unethically? Well, it aint like they haven’t before.
It’s been three months since the Republican Party took a beating at the polls losing the White House as well as two Senate seats and seven in the House. Yet they are still immersed in a vicious debate over whether their policies are driving away majorities of the electorate or if it’s just a messaging problem.
Heavyweight GOP operatives like Karl Rove, Eric Canter, Jim DeMint, Rush Limbaugh and various Tea Party goons are polishing their finest bluster and throwing blame around like cream pies at a clown convention. What they seem to be missing is that their messaging has been the one part of their tactical campaign that has been working. Americans, for the most part, know exactly what Republicans stand for, they just don’t like it and voted against it in droves. So the the response from the GOP is to take another stab at obscuring their true intent by developing another phony facade behind which to campaign. That effort was mercilessly skewered last night by Jon Stewart on the Daily Show:
Stewart’s focus on the self-described “Word Doctor” Frank Luntz could not have been more appropriate. Luntz has positioned himself as the poster boy for political window dressing.
In the pre-2012 election warm-up he conducted a seminar for the Republican Governors Association to teach them how to practice more effective deception. He told his pupils that he was “so scared” of Occupy Wall Street and laid out a directive for them to refrain from using damaging phrases like “tax the rich,”“sacrifice,” and “capitalism,” and replace them with his equivalent of verbal comfort food.
While desperately dishonest, Luntz is actually closer to solving the GOP’s problems than most of his comrades in the communications arena who are Apocalypse vendors trying to outdo one another with tales of doom. They want to keep the right-wing sheep in state of constant and debilitating fear by insisting that America’s demise is imminent, freedom is hanging by a thread, and the foreign-born usurper in the White House is amassing his troops for a run at dictatorship. Compared to that, Luntz is as warm and fuzzy as you can get, albeit just as averse to the truth.
The Apocalyptists, however, are winning the internal GOP war. Their gloomy forecast has prevailed as happy-talkers like Luntz fade into the woodwork. Luntz even acknowledged the defeat in a post-election commentary about why “Fox News viewers ought to be outraged.” The doomsayers have a much higher wattage broadcast platform. And although they whine incessantly about what they imagine to be a liberal media, their own role in propagandizing the nation is far more aggressive. As Jon Stewart sarcastically put it…
“If only people knew what the Republicans were about. What the Republicans need is some kind of a 24 hour a day, 7 day a week perpetual messaging refinement and distribution resource. Preferably one cloaked in the trappings of journalistic authority but without any of its ethical constraints.”
Yeah, if only they had that. Then their message wouldn’t be getting suppressed by media titans like Current TV. Wait a minute – that doesn’t exist anymore. Well the leftists certainly have dominated the airwaves on talk radio for the last few decades. Oh wait, that isn’t true either.
I guess the fact remains that the only billionaire sponsored mouthpiece for extremist right-wing thought control is still Fox News. And despite their monopoly on media manipulation they still can’t stop whining about what victims they are.
Earlier this week President Obama correctly noted that the penchant Fox News has for punishing Republicans who dare to work cooperatively with Democrats has the effect of discouraging Republicans from such cooperation. That rather modest observation has sent Fox News into a tizzy that all but validates the President’s point. They are simply incapable of processing anything this president says in a rational manner. In this case, all he said was this:
“One of the biggest factors is going to be how the media shapes debates. If a Republican member of Congress is not punished on Fox News or by Rush Limbaugh for working with a Democrat on a bill of common interest, then you’ll see more of them doing it.”
That fired up the outrage machine at Fox. Fox Nation declared it to be a threat. Steve Doocy cast it as an attack on the First Amendment. Of course, any reasonable reading of it would find nothing approaching either of those wild overreactions. A threats implies consequences which were never articulated by the President. Nor was the First Amendment infringed upon because the free speech rights of Fox were never in any danger.
Doocy also lamented that Obama has some “scared Republicans in his camp.” By characterizing Republicans who have found some common ground with the President as “scared,” Doocy has also validated the President’s point that Fox punishes such agreement. In Fox’s world compromising with Democrats to move the country forward is evidence of cowardice. That sort of derision is exactly what Obama was referring to.
And it gets worse. Fox’s Peter Johnson, Jr. visited his kiddie pals at Fox & Friends to say that the First Amendment is now “seriously in doubt.” He interpreted Obama’s remarks to mean that the President regards anyone who disagrees with him as “an enemy of the state.” Where does he get this stuff? Johnson was so apoplectic about Obama expressing his opinion (which is also permitted by the First Amendment) that he wedded Fox News to the very concept of freedom saying “Without a free Fox, there is not a free America” Apparently, therefore, there was not a free America prior to 1996; there was not a free America during the entire Reagan Administration.
On the Fox News web site, fake Democrat Kirsten Powers wrote a scathing editorial bashing Obama as waging a war of terror on Fox News. She complained that “President Obama was back to his grousing about the one television news outlet in America that won’t fall in line and treat him as emperor.” Powers has gulped down massive quantities of the Fox Kool-Aid. But she is representative of the so-called Democrats that appear on Fox only to criticize other Democrats. The Fox version of fairness and balance is when Republicans and Democrats hate Democrats equally.
Ironically, the claim that the President makes about Republicans being vulnerable to Fox’s criticisms is one that Fox makes about itself. They consider themselves the last stand against the socialism they imagine is emanating from the White House. As Johnson said, they regard themselves as “the bulwark of our democracy.” Fox’s CEO Roger Ailes once assured Glenn Beck that he would have a free hand because “I see this as the Alamo. If I just had somebody who was willing to sit on the other side of the camera until the last shot is fired, we’d be fine.”
Fox freely admits that their intent is have an impact on government. They actually boast about the influence they have over representatives in Washington. Then, when the President notes that that is occurring, they explode with indignation over his alleged assault on freedom. It’s a cognitive disconnect that could span the Grand Canyon.
Most of all, it is whining of the highest order. No network bitches more about how they are perceived than Fox News. They spend innumerable hours complaining about their treatment by politicians, other pundits, and the whole of what they call the “mainstream media.” Sean Hannity has devoted whole programs to it. Fox & Friends denounces every media analyst as corrupt or even crazy. Bill O’Reilly has made the destruction of these scoundrels his life’s ambition, saying…
“[T]here is a huge problem in this country and I’m going to attack that problem. I’m going to attack it. These people aren’t getting away with this. I’m going to go right where they live. Every corrupt media person in this country is on notice, right now. I’m coming after you…I’m going to hunt you down [...] if I could strangle these people and not go to hell and get executed…I would.”
Setting aside O’Reilly’s insane vigilantism, the thing that Fox fails to understand is that the First Amendment applies to everyone, including the President. Fox seems to think that free speech is a one-way street and that if they express their brazenly biased views, anyone who who disagrees with them is trampling on their Constitutional rights. It’s a perspective that reeks of the censorship they pretend to be disturbed by.
President Obama just sat down for a wide-ranging interview with The New Republic. In the course of the discussion he articulated what is a long-standing problem for Republican politicians that prevents them from engaging in reasonable legislative compromises. The President said…
“One of the biggest factors is going to be how the media shapes debates. If a Republican member of Congress is not punished on Fox News or by Rush Limbaugh for working with a Democrat on a bill of common interest, then you’ll see more of them doing it.”
That is an astute observation. Many Republicans live in fear of being criticized in the conservative media. They regard people like Roger Ailes and Rush Limbaugh as Godfathers whose rings must be kissed. And divergence from the doctrine prescribed by the most extreme elements of the far-right can land them in primary trouble with Tea Partiers. The President also recognized that dilemma:
“The House Republican majority is made up mostly of members who are in sharply gerrymandered districts that are very safely Republican and may not feel compelled to pay attention to broad-based public opinion, because what they’re really concerned about is the opinions of their specific Republican constituencies.”
The result of having to cater to perpetually outraged absolutists on the right is that GOP attention whores will do or say anything that gets them more airtime. And the media is all too happy to accommodate them. Obama addressed that journalistic failing as well.
“Nobody gets on TV saying, ‘I agree with my colleague from the other party.’ People get on TV for calling each other names and saying the most outlandish things.”
That’s a theory that has been proven many times over by folks like Glenn Beck, Allen West, Donald Trump, and a menagerie of other bombastic loudmouths.
The interview is well worth reading in its entirety, however, the observations about the press and anxiety-driven Republicans are a refreshing blast of realistic insight. It is important for these truths to be articulated by the President. Now it remains to be seen if Obama will apply that insight to his actions when dealing with those in the media and the Republican Party who engage in kneejerk opposition to anything proposed by the White House or Democrats in congress. Because, as the President noted in the interview…
“Until Republicans feel that there’s a real price to pay for them just saying no and being obstructionist, you’ll probably see at least a number of them arguing that we should keep on doing it.”
Exactly! Make them pay the price. And the price is the respect and support of the American people who are sick and tired of the games played by Washington’s opportunists.
Seconds after the first inauguration of President Obama, Chris Wallace of Fox News speculated that he wasn’t really president because the oath was flubbed by Chief Justice John Roberts. That suggestion that Obama was not a legitimate president foreshadowed what would become a cacophony of Birthers and Republicans determined to reject any and all of what Obama put forth.
On this morning’s broadcast of Obama’s second inauguration, Fox News continued their dismissive coverage of the President. They led it off with the kiddies at Fox & Friends who exhibited their respect for this historic day by reporting what an awful day it is.
Steve Doocey: “As if a cold Monday in January wasn’t dreary enough, today has been dubbed ‘Blue Monday’, the most depressing day of the year.”
I’m quite sure that the day of Obama’s inauguration is decidedly depressing for the these remedial, right-wing buzzkills. But Fox was not through casting aspersions on this day and the President. Immediately following the inaugural address, Fox’s panel of sourpuss pundits picked apart the speech, which they universally agreed was a partisan screed aimed at bashing the GOP.
Chris Wallace: “This was an unyielding, uncompromising espousal of a liberal agenda.” Brit Hume: “This is utterly bereft of an outreach to the opposition.”
Never mind that the President repeatedly spoke of how the nation’s greatest accomplishments were achieved by working together and how that was a necessity for moving forward today in light of the difficulties that lie ahead. Fox is positioning itself for another four years of blind opposition to anything that might help this president – or this country while this president is in the White House.
Their community web site, Fox Nation, went to even further extremes to disparage the President with at least five derogatory articles by virulent Obama adversaries, including their headline piece featuring Mark Levin who was quoted from a Breitbart interview where he ripped the President in the most repulsive terms.
Levin: “I think there’s a lot of perverse thinking that goes on in Obama’s mind, radical left-wing thinking. He was indoctrinated with Marx and Alinksy propaganda.”
And this is how Fox News covers Obama on the day of his inauguration, a day usually set aside to celebrate America’s democratic principles and offer best wishes for the new administration’s efforts to meet the challenges facing the nation. We can hardly wait to see what Fox is dreaming up for tomorrow, or the next day, or the next four years. And Fox wonders why they are shunned by the White House.
On several notorious occasions Fox News has “accidentally” labeled dishonest or scandalized Republicans as Democrats. It seems to be a strategy on their part to protect the GOP from bad publicity while tarnishing their opponents. And despite their “zero tolerance policy” for such errors, they never air corrections or apologies.
Consequently, it should not come as a surprise that Fox, in tandem with the uber-rightists at NewsBusters, have ratcheted up a phony controversy concerning the party affiliation of former New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin, who was just indicted by a federal grand jury on 21 counts of conspiracy, bribery, money laundering, tax fraud and filing false tax returns.
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. The most damning evidence that Nagin is, and always has been, a Republican is the nature of the crimes for which he was indicted.
“Nagin used his public office and his official capacity to provide favorable treatment that benefited the business and financial interests of individuals providing him with bribery or kickback payoffs.”
That’s pretty much the hallmark of Republican politics. Were he a Democrat there would have been charges connected to union malfeasance or public works projects. But Nagin was acting on his nature as the life-long Republican he truly is. Neither Fox nor NewsBusters bothered to point out these facts.
A study out of the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs ranked the number of times various news outlets were called on by President Obama in a press conference. The results have stirred some controversy with regard to whether certain outlets were favored, or disfavored, by the President.
The University’s Smart Politics blog revealed their own prejudicial assessment in a headline that declared “FOX Still Shunned at Obama Press Conferences.” There is much to ponder in that headline. For instance, the characterization of Fox being shunned “still” made no sense because they never bothered to establish that Fox had been shunned previously. But even worse, the overall assertion that Fox was shunned is not borne out by the study’s results.
Fox earned a ninth place showing by having been called on for questions fourteen times. That is only two fewer nods than CNN and the New York Times received. And if Fox can be described as having been shunned, then the Washington Post, USA Today, and NPR were victims of blatant and deliberate neglect since they came in even lower than Fox at tenth, eleventh, and thirteenth.
Nevertheless, Fox seems to be the only news outlet that is complaining about their treatment by the President. They devoted a segment of their Fox News Watch program to whining that they aren’t getting enough attention, poor things. Host Jon Scott started the bitch session by crying “Why does the president not like to call on us?” Jumping in without being recognized was Fox’s fake Democrat Kirsten Powers who shot back “Because he doesn’t want to be embarrassed. When Ed Henry asks questions to Jay Carney, inevitably Jay Carney ends up looking stupid because he doesn’t know how to answer the question. He’s used to pushing people around.” And she’s supposed to be the voice of the left on Fox’s fair and balanced roster.
With friends like Kirsten Powers who needs enemas? And that is a perfect illustration of why Obama ought to start shunning Fox News. It has never been a credible journalistic operation. It is an unabashed agent of the Republican Party whose only purpose is to bash the President and support the right-wing agenda.
While the study’s results show that Fox was treated no worse than several other prominent news outlets, the record of overt bias exhibited by Fox should excuse the administration if it decides to banish Fox altogether from the White House press room. They are no more deserving of press credentials than the Sasquatch Gazette or the Journal of the American Astrological Society.
Throughout much of the last four years, Fox News, and the broader conservative media noise machine, invested incalculable hours yammering about the alleged socialist leanings of President Obama and Democrats in general. It became an obsession that infected even previously sedate Republican politicians as they rushed to placate radical elements of their party who are convinced that Obama is a Manchurian president sent by foreign enemies to hand America over to communist tyrants. And now that the election is over, Fox persists in tagging the President with a label they believe has derogatory implications.
The first problem with this characterization is that it is patently untrue. Obama has presided over an administration that has been nothing but positive from the perspective of hardcore capitalists. The stock market doubled in his first term. He has appointed numerous Wall Street refugees to his cabinet and staff. Trade has increased. Corporate taxes are near an all time low. If Obama is a socialist, he is very bad at it.
But more importantly, Americans who were bombarded with the campaign cacophony of Obama’s leftist conspiracy were undeterred and voted for him anyway. That could imply that the American people endorsed the socialism that they were told Obama represents. And that wouldn’t be far from the truth. The United States has abundant policies and institutions that are rooted in socialist philosophy. They are some of the most beloved and trusted institutions our government provides, including Social Security, Medicare, the Veteran’s Administration, and virtually every public works and infrastructure project managed by both federal and local agencies.
The poll referenced above on Fox Nation was conducted by Gallup. As usual, the Fox Nationalists did not link to the actual poll, but to a partisan analysis of it. They certainly wouldn’t want to expose their audience to any real data. The survey found that Americans are quite fond of small business, free enterprise, and entrepreneurs, in almost equal numbers among Democrats and Republicans and across the ideological spectrum. The divergence came with respect to capitalism, big business, and the federal government. These results should not surprise anyone, knowing that the GOP is proud of their favoritism toward the wealthy and giant, multinational corporatism. And why wouldn’t Democrats feel favorably toward a federal government presided over by a Democrat?
What may come as a surprise to some is that approximately four-in-ten Americans view socialism positively. That number includes about a quarter of both Republicans and conservatives. That’s an indication that the American people have a fairly enlightened view of the political and economic realities in this country. Although a small majority still have a kneejerk ignorance that shapes their views. The President would do well to adjust his agenda to more accurately reflect the will of the people.
The funny thing about Fox’s presentation of the data in the Gallup poll is that, according to the Pew Reserach Center, only “about one-in-five Americans (21%) say they regularly watch Fox News.” That means that the number of Americans who view socialism positively (39%) is nearly double the number who view Fox (21%). That’s an important fact to keep in mind the next time Fox tries to present itself as the voice of the people. It is decidedly not representative of the views of most Americans. And it’s evidence that the American people are smarter than Fox gives them credit for.
[Update:] Sarah Palin weighed in on the creeping threat of socialism tonight as a guest on Hannity for a segment titled: Socialism Rising. Her trademark “Word Salad” rambling included this endlessly incoherent run-on sentence that never gets around to explaining why she thinks Obama is a socialist:
“He believes in these failed socialist policies and I say that not to personally condemn our president, but I say it because I face reality, and I see what’s going on and I see the path that we are on, and the fact that Barack Obama has not had a budget for the four years he’s been in office and not been worried about it and continues to spend recklessly other people’s money and that is a sign of that idea of loving socialism.”
Of course, Palin would never personally condemn the President she once accused of “palling around with terrorists.” After all, by facing reality she can see Russia from her house. So she knows all too well the evils of loving socialism. She just doesn’t understand democracy or respect the 39% of Americans who are better educated than she is about the meaning of socialism and how it has contributed to the nation’s general welfare as spelled out in the US Constitution.
When Fox News debuted sixteen years ago, it was crafted from scratch to be a partisan outlet for right-wing propaganda and a platform for advancing a conservative agenda. Its founder, Rupert Murdoch, was already an internationally known purveyor of right-slanted newspapers and broadcasters. Complimenting Fox’s television presence is its Internet community web site, Fox Nation. The statement of purpose posted on the Fox Nation web site says that it is “committed to the core principles of tolerance, open debate, civil discourse, and fair and balanced coverage of the news.” However, a cursory glance at the site reveals that they have fallen wide of their stated purpose by several light years.
Fox Nation is layered thickly with far-right extremist diatribes and links to disreputable articles plucked from the Internet’s fringes. And the notion that civil discourse can take place on Fox Nation is quickly dispelled by reading their user forums with their frequent use of the “N” word and juvenile references to the President as “Odumbo” and the First Lady as “Moo-chelle.” These sorts of comments are not anomalies. Fox Nation is deliberately catering to this caliber of audience who revel in overt racist and hostile dialogue. This is not the conventional, freewheeling online chatter that is found on comment boards and is particularly unusual for a site sponsored by a major national news network.
Not much is known about the operations of Fox Nation. Unlike other news enterprises that identify their principle staff, Fox Nation treats their publishers, editors, etc., as if they were covert agents of espionage. There is no masthead or bylines or any other indication of who is responsible for the repugnant content posted daily on the web page. Requests for this information from Fox corporate communications officers went unanswered. And given the dishonesty, unprofessionalism, ignorance, and immaturity of the tone and substance on the site, perhaps it is their intention to remain anonymous in order to avoid the shame that would come with an association to such puerile trash.
Fox CEO Rupert Murdoch was a harsh critic of Google News, calling them “parasites,” because he said they steal his content by posting headlines and short blurbs and linking to the source articles. But that’s pretty hypocritical because it’s exactly what Fox Nation does. There is almost no original content, and what they harvest from other sources is often planted on affiliated sites like those of Fox News contributors Tucker Carlson, Michele Malkin, and Dick Morris.
What follows are ten excerpts from my ebook, Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Community’s Assault On Truth. The book chronicles more than fifty flagrantly dishonest reports by the Fox Nationalist team of faux journalists. These are not mere differences of opinion or discussions that might have varying degrees of perspective. They are obvious, provable, outright lies, and they are manifestations of a disconnect with the real world.
1) Human Carbon Emissions Could Put OFF a Lethal New Ice Age
According to the Fox Nationalists, the perpetrators of Global Warming are actually rescuing the planet from a frigid doom. They quote Cambridge University research published in the journal Nature Geoscience. The only problem with their conclusion is that the scientist they reference in the article, Luke Skinner, has a completely different conclusion. He says that he anticipated this response amongst climate crisis deniers and said that they are…
“…missing the point, because where we’re going is not maintaining our currently warm climate but heating it much further, and adding CO2 to a warm climate is very different from adding it to a cold climate.
“The rate of change with CO2 is basically unprecedented, and there are huge consequences if we can’t cope with that.”
Skinner told the BBC that the results of the study point to the sensitivity of the climate system to “quite small changes in CO2, let alone the huge changes that we’ve been responsible for over the last 200 years.” Of course, none of that is included in the Fox Nation article. They deliberately neglect the obvious point that by the time the presumed ice age begins, in 1,500 years, global warming, if unchecked, would have already put half the planet’s current land mass under water. But these facts do not sway Fox from cherry-picking out-of-context soundbites to mislead their audience.
2) College Mate: Obama Was An Ardent Marxist-Leninist
In this episode Fox Nation posted as their featured headline story an article with the title: College Mate: Obama Was an ‘Ardent’ ‘Marxist-Leninist.’ In order to fabricate this wholly dishonest smear, Fox sunk to re-posting a column written by conservative bomb-thrower Selwyn Duke. Duke’s article was originally published by The New American, the periodical of the extremist and notoriously fascistic John Birch Society.
In the article, Duke relied entirely on the testimony of John Drew, a man who has been pushing his dubious and uncorroborated account of a college relationship with Obama for years. He claims that Obama was a close friend and confidant. The truth is he only met Obama casually a handful of times at gatherings with many others present. He never attended college with Obama because the future President didn’t enter Occidental College until after Drew had graduated.
It’s painfully clear to anyone paying attention that Drew is attempting to exploit his brief encounters with Obama to exalt himself, disseminate his rightist propaganda, and earn a few bucks in the process. Now, after years of plodding through radical right-wing rags and Internet backwater rabble, Drew and Duke have succeeded in getting Fox Nation to sling their stale mud.
3) Obama Selling Amnesty For $465
The issue of immigration is one that the Fox Nationalists relish in demagoguing. They publish numerous stories that are openly racist, as has been thoroughly documented. This is just such a story that was designed to inflame prejudice with its utterly dishonest skewing of the facts. The headline composed by Fox Nation is wholly untrue. Not only is amnesty not a part of the administration’s program, nothing in it is for sale.
In truth, President Obama directed the Department of Homeland Security to exercise prosecutorial discretion so that innocent children who were brought to this country by undocumented parents are not unduly punished while a more comprehensive solution is negotiated with Congress. The program does not provide amnesty. The fee to apply for this program is intended to offset costs, but can be waived on a case by case basis for applicants unable to pay.
None of those facts stopped Fox from deliberately misrepresenting the matter in a way that leads their audience to presume that the administration is peddling citizenship to foreigners who come here to steal our jobs. It appears that Fox picked up the story from the juveniles at Breitbart News where John Nolte published an article that implied that Obama’s goal is to mint new voters. Never mind that the immigrants partaking of this program will not have voting rights because they will not be citizens.
4) Americans Not Buying Buffett Rule
The Buffett Rule that Americans are not buying refers to his remarks that wealthy folks like him should not be paying lower tax rates than average folks like his secretary. So all that the Fox Nationalists had to do to validate their headline was produce the results of a poll that shows that a majority of respondents do not believe that raising taxes on millionaires will do any good. And since, in this case, they are relying on the results of a poll conducted by Fox News, they should be able to support whatever preconceived myth they want to invent.
However, the very first paragraph of their own story states that “more voters think raising taxes on wealthy Americans will help (40 percent) rather than hurt the economy (24 percent).” And the margin of difference (16%) isn’t even close. Yet somehow the headline atop the article overtly refutes the facts in their own survey. Are these people even trying anymore? They must really think their readers are idiots. And since they must know their audience better than anyone else, I will defer to their assessment.
Sharpton: “What I don’t want to see is because he is black we act like he’s not the real president – he ought to be leading the black cause or the labor cause. He’s the President. To minimize who he is, I think, is an insult to the achievement of having him there.”
So this was not about Sharpton never criticizing Obama, just not constraining Obama to being merely the president of black Americans as opposed to all Americans. Fox, on the other hand, should acknowledge that their whole business model rests on not criticizing Republicans and conservatives. In a specific example you have Dick Morris, who has been on the Fox payroll for years, and pledged never to criticize Mitt Romney:
“I decided a couple of – a month or two ago to stop dumping on Mitt Romney, for example … Not because I approve of Romneycare, not because I approve of his flip-flops, flip on abortion, but because I may have to be one of those who carries this guy for a couple of months when he’s running against Obama and I don’t want to make my own task harder.”
Morris fulfilled that promise by becoming one of Romney’s most ardent cheerleaders. Just days before Obama won with a commanding Electoral College victory, Morris told Fox News that a Romney landslide was a virtual certainty.
6) Elizabeth Warren Praises Communist China
In response to an ad by Massachusetts senate candidate Elizabeth Warren, the Fox Nationalists have not only lied, but exposed their latent unpatriotic tendencies as well. To state bluntly that “Elizabeth Warren Praises Communist China” is a thoroughly manufactured falsehood. She never did anything remotely of the kind. What she did was advocate for the importance of America remaining competitive on an international basis and not permit China to take the lead. Here is what she said:
“We’ve got bridges and roads in need of repair, and thousands of people in need of work. Why aren’t we rebuilding America? Our competitors are putting people to work, building the future. China invests 9 percent of its GDP in infrastructure. America, we’re at just 2.4 percent. We can do better. We can build a foundation for a strong new economy and get people in Massachusetts to work right now.”
The Fox Nationalists have a decidedly shallow grasp of world affairs. They think that lamenting America falling behind on matters critical to international competitiveness is the same as praising a political system of government. Were these same conservatives outraged when Reagan, and other cold warriors, argued that the U.S. was falling behind the Soviet Union militarily and, therefore, they were praising Russia’s communism?
For Fox News, and its conservative benefactors, to criticize Warren for these comments is akin to advocating for America to succumb to foreign competitors. In effect, it’s conservatives who are acceding to China’s superiority – not the other way around.
7) Stocks Tumble Worldwide After Obama Speech
The implication of this headline is that Obama’s speech had something to do with a stock market decline. However, the very first paragraph of the Bloomberg News article Fox cites specifically states that the decline is due to…
“…escalating concern about Greece’s debt crisis and speculation congress won’t pass President Obama’s plan to boost the economy.“
In other words, the markets favor Obama’s plan and want it to be implemented. So a more honest headline would have read “Stocks Tumble Worldwide Due To Republican Obstructionism.” But then again, if you’re looking for a more honest headline then you probably wouldn’t be reading Fox Nation in the first place.
8) Guess Who Tried To Break Into Southwest Cockpit?
Notice that in this headline the Fox Nationalists explicitly describes Ali Reza Shahsavari as trying to break into the cockpit of a Southwest Airlines plane. But anyone who read a little further down would have seen that the article unambiguously contradicts the headline saying “Initially, authorities said the man had tried to break into the cockpit but Amarillo Aviation Director Patrick Rhodes later said that he was ‘not trying to break into the cockpit, but was unruly and had confronted the cabin crew.’”
The headline was wholly the creation of Fox News. The story itself was sourced to the Associated Press, whose article got the headline right: “Southwest flight makes emergency landing in Texas.” So what we have here is Fox deliberately falsifying the headline in order to make a derogatory insinuation about a man of Iranian descent who just happens to be an American citizen born in Mississippi. The article states that there is no indication of terrorism and additional reporting describe the incident as an episode of mental illness triggered by an argument with another passenger. The only conclusion is that Fox saw a brown man with Middle-Eastern features and decided to invent an international terrorism incident where none existed by appending a provocative question to the story that contradicted the article’s content.
9) Man Linked to ‘Occupy’ Protest Charged With Attempted Assassination of Obama
The Fox News Channel ran a story with this same deceptive theme. They hosted Michelle Malkin to engage in a discussion that was deliberately designed to smear the Occupiers. During the segment they displayed a picture of the suspect, Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez, with a caption that said: “‘Occupy’ Shooter.” There was no question mark or other qualifying notation to indicate that this was merely speculation on the part of Fox News.
For the record, the only link between this guy and the Occupy movement is the one invented by Fox. The Washington police have stated unequivocally that they have no evidence that he was affiliated in any way with the protesters. Reports that he may have tried to hide in the crowds at the Occupy DC site should not surprise anyone. Any densely populated location would attract somebody trying to elude law enforcement. A football game or an Alzheimer’s Walkathon would serve the same purpose.
What little is known about Ortega-Hernandez would likely lead objective analysts to suspect him of being a Teabagger. He is said to be anti-government, hates President Obama, and has a history of mental illness. That’s a profile that would fit perfectly for say … Glenn Beck.
10) Poll: Majority Blame Obama For Bad Economy
There have been numerous polls asking respondents to say who they hold responsible for the state of the American economy. In every one of them George W. Bush ranks at or near the top, with Congress and Wall Street following close behind. Usually President Obama is not the target of most of the blame.
Leave it to Fox News to come up with a poll that contradicts the others. And it should come as no surprise that the poll they’ve latched onto is the work of Rasmussen’s Pulse Opinion Research. However, even with a fixed pollster, and a rabidly partisan news outlet, Fox still finds it necessary to outright lie about the poll’s results.
In Rasmussen’s poll 34% said that Obama is the most to blame for the slow economic recovery. Most elementary school graduates know that that is not a majority. What’s more, if you add the responses of those who said that it was either Congress, Wall Street, or George W. Bush, it comes to a clear majority of 61% saying that Obama is not to blame. The Fox Nationalists must take great comfort in the knowledge that their audience is too incurious to actually look into anything themselves.
“The public’s opinion of the Tea Party movement has soured in the wake of the debt-ceiling debate. The Tea Party is now viewed unfavorably by 40 percent of the public and favorably by just 20 percent, according to the poll.
“The president’s overall job approval rating remained relatively stable, with 48 percent approving of the way he handles his job as president and 47 percent disapproving.”
To repeat, 48% approve of Obama while only 20% approve of the Tea Party. That means Obama’s approval is more than twice that of the Tea Party. What’s more, Obama is viewed favorably by slightly more people than view him unfavorably. The Tea Party is viewed unfavorably by twice as many people as view it favorably.
The only way to spin this poll positively for the Tea Party is to deliberately misconstrue the data by taking into account only the unfavorable numbers as if they existed in a vacuum. Leave it to Fox to lie to their audience and produce a community characterized by ignorance and wishful thinking.
These are just a few examples of the veracity-challenged deceptions that appear everyday on Fox Nation. In the ebook, Fox Nation vs. Reality, there are dozens more examples of the documented, deliberate dishonesty that is the hallmark of Fox News. It’s a handy reference for rebutting those crazy uncles who keep sending you conspiracy theory chain letters and berating you for having missed Hannity last night.
Fox Nation is an integral part of the Fox News family and a critical component of their mission to deceive the general public and reinforce the partisan tunnel-blindness of their glassy-eyed disciples. This makes it all the more necessary to shine a light on their cynical mauling of truthfulness in media. Mark Twain said that “Reality can be beaten with enough imagination.” And the fabulists at Fox have imagination in abundance as evidenced by all the tales they make up on their web site. So the more they seek to deceive, the more the rest of us need to be prepared to rebut and confront them. As difficult as that task may seem, we can take heart in Stephen Colbert’s observation that “Reality has a well known liberal bias.” Which explains why it is so at odds with what Fox represents.
Poor Greta Van Susteren. Her Fox News program has lately been lagging in the ratings behind MSNBC’s “The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell.” And now she is feeling neglected by the Obama administration.
In a post on her Gretawire blog, Van Sustern has resorted to copious use of BRIGHT RED FONTS WITH ALL CAPITAL LETTERS to express her dismay at being left out of all the reindeer games. She laments that Fox News was overlooked by the State Department when media briefings were held for various news organizations. She whines that this is “playing dirty” and was being done “to punish Fox” for their critical reporting.
Van Susteren: The Administration in what looks like a coordinated effort is denying Fox access to information that they are handing out to other news organizations. Why exclude Fox? That is simple – to punish — to try to teach us a lesson not to pry, not to look further for facts.
Van Susteren fails to disclose that the State Department had previously explained why Fox was not included in previous briefings and press releases. It had nothing to do with punishment. The State Department distributed their information to news organizations that had reporters who were assigned to cover the department. Fox News has no such reporters so they didn’t get on the list. In fact, Fox has a shoe-string news operation that doesn’t concentrate on actual reporting. Most of their “news” assets are allocated to anchors, analysts, and pundits, who are not doing any bona fide journalism. In short, the State Department had no one to notify and they weren’t going to send notices to everyone with a Fox News email address.
The administration would, nevertheless, be justified in bypassing Fox even if they did assign a reporter to the beat. Contrary to Van Susteren’s kvetching, Fox has not been “looking for facts” about the Benghazi attacks. Rather, they have been wallowing in speculation and wild conspiracy theories. Fox anchors and guests have dispensed absurd declarations that President Obama had deliberately allowed Ambassador Stevens to be murdered; that he personally ordered rescuers to stand down; that he refused requests for additional security (actually it was congress who voted to cut funding for embassy security); and that he could be subject to impeachment for unspecified high crimes and misdemeanors.
None of these assertions have any bearing in fact, but that doesn’t stop Van Susteren from yammering about Fox getting a cold shoulder from the administration. Fox deserves to be shunned. They are not a credible news enterprise. They are no more entitled to press passes than the UFO Gazette or the Hogwarts Herald. If Van Susteren did a little self-analysis before ripping into her imaginary slights by Obama, she might be better situated to complain. As it is, her post includes a curious admission/excuse for Fox getting the facts wrong:
Van Susteren: To the extent we get anything wrong is because the Administration is doing whatever it can to thwart us from getting the facts.
On the contrary, it would be more correct to say that to the extent you deliberately distort the facts, the administration is under no obligation to help you continue to get everything wrong. Van Susteren is, incredibly, blaming Fox’s mistakes on Obama. Nobody forced Fox to wade so far out into delusional speculation. In fact, based on their body of work, it appears to be their corporate mission. And the administration can hardly be criticized (or accused of punishment) if they should be reluctant to further that mission.
Demonstrating that a fish stinks from the head, Fox News CEO Roger Ailes made some remarkably dishonest remarks in an interview with TVNewser’s Chris Ariens. Ailes was asked how he thought the next four years of the Obama administration would play out. He said…
“It’s day to day for us. We don’t — I know no one believes it — we have no agenda. If he runs into a burning building tomorrow and saves four kids, he’s gonna be the biggest goddamn hero Fox News ever saw. But if he leaves four guys behind on the battlefield but can’t explain it, then he’s gonna have a problem with Fox News.”
This is pretty good evidence that the liars on Fox News have taken their cues from the boss. The reason they are so comfortable making outrageous statements that are utterly devoid of factual basis is that Ailes has communicated clearly that it’s acceptable and he’s shown them how it’s done.
The notion that Fox News has no agenda is a fallacy that no one with a functioning brain would give credence. Even the most ardent conservatives recognize the partisan bias exercised at Fox, and they exploit it to their advantage. Sarah Palin once counseled a troubled GOP senate candidate to “Speak through Fox News.” Ailes himself has described his vision of Fox saying “I see this as the Alamo. If I just had somebody who was willing to sit on the other side of the camera until the last shot is fired, we’d be fine.” The network worked feverishly to oppose President Obama’s first term and reelection.
Ailes’ suggestion that he would praise the President if he did something worthy is provably false. In the days that followed the killing of Osama Bin Laden, Fox News ran numerous stories suggesting that the mission was unlawful. Their coverage of the same issue during the presidential campaign portrayed Obama, not as a heroic and decisive leader, but as an egotistical braggart. It’s likely that Fox would handle a story about Obama saving children from a burning building in the same disparaging manner. And even though Obama did not leave “four guys behind on the battlefield,” an obvious reference to Benghazi, Ailes and Fox still characterize the story that way.
Ailes likes to pretend that he’s a “fair and balanced” journalist. But the assertion that he has no agenda is belied by what actually gets on the air. A couple of years ago he told the conservative National Review that he saw himself as merely a contrarian. “To be honest with you,” he said, “if all the media was tipped to the right, I’d be the biggest liberal in New York.” But he had plenty of opportunity to be contrary after 9/11 when the rest of the media was propping up George Bush, whose administration had failed to prevent the attack. He could have been a big liberal in 2003 when the rest of the media was jumping on Bush’s bandwagon for an unjustified and illegal war with Iraq.
Nope. Ailes is as he has always been: an unrepentant arch-conservative activist running a pseudo-news enterprise on behalf of a starkly right-wing agenda.
With the 2012 presidential election behind us, there has been a flurry of post-election analysis by observers from all across the political spectrum. One theme that I have seen coming from both the left and right is the notion that Fox News has not been particularly helpful to the Republican Party, despite that being their primary mission. This criticism reminded me of an article I published three years ago titled “Fox News Is Killing The Republican Party.” So I went back and read it, and to my surprise, it seems just as relevant to today’s political landscape as it did then. In fact, it’s rather frightening (and disappointing) that so little has changed. That is, unless your a Democrat, because the harm that Fox is causing to the GOP is a gift to the Democrats.
So on this lazy Saturday afternoon I thought I would reprise this article for your enjoyment. I reprint it here without a single modification.
The case was made long ago that Fox News is a blight on the media map. It is bad for journalism. It is bad for Democracy. It is bad for America. A so-called “news” network that repeatedly misinforms, even deliberately disinforms, its audience is failing any test of public service embodied by an ethical press.
I, personally, have made the case for an embargo of Fox News by Democrats and progressives (see Starve the Beast:Part I, Part II, Part III), documenting via studied analysis that there is no affirmative value to appearing on Fox News – a network that has established itself as overtly hostile to the Democratic message and its messengers.
However, there is another side to this that has not been addressed previously. Republicans might be well advised to avoid Fox News as well. There is a case to be made that Fox News is demonstrably harmful to the Republican Party. In fact, it may be the worst thing to happen to Republicans in decades. That may seem counter-intuitive when discussing Fox News, the acknowledged public relations division of the Republican Party. Fox has populated its air with right-wing mouthpieces and brazenly partisan advocates for a conservative Republican agenda. They read GOP press releases on the air verbatim as if they were the product of original research. They provide a forum where Republican politicians and pundits can peddle their views unchallenged. So how is this harmful to Republicans?
If all we were witnessing was the emergence of a mainstream conservative network that aspired to advance Republican themes and policies, there would not be much of note here. Most of the conventional media was already center-right before there was a Fox News. But Fox has corralled a stable of the most disreputable, unqualified, extremist, lunatics ever assembled, and is presenting them as experts, analysts, and leaders. These third-rate icons of idiocy are marketed by Fox like any other gag gift (i.e. pet rocks, plastic vomit, Sarah Palin, etc.). So while most Americans have never heard of actual Republican party bosses like House Minority Leader John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, posers like Joe the Plumber and Carrie Prejean have become household names.
Fox News has descended into depths heretofore reserved for fringe characters. They are openly promoting the wackos who believe that President Obama is ineligible to hold office because he isn’t a U.S. citizen. They feature commentaries by secessionists and even those calling for an overthrow of the government and the Constitution. This explains how folks like Ralph Peters, a retired military officer who said that the Taliban captors of a U.S. Soldier would be saving us a lot of trouble and expense if they would just kill him, earn airtime on Fox. Peters previously told Fox News that he favors military strikes against media targets. This explains how Glenn Beck can agree with a guest that it would be a good thing if America were attacked again by Osama bin Laden. And don’t even get me started on Victoria Jackson, who has joined an ever-lengthening line of psycho-Chicken Littles who compare the President to Hitler.
Good Advice: “If crazy ideologues have infiltrated the news business, we need to know about it.”
~ Bill O’Reilly, 7/16/09
The list of loonies extends to politicians like Michele Bachmann, entertainers like Ted Nugent, and of course, the talk show pundits like Rush Limbaugh, whose maniacal rantings are elevated by Fox into their version of political dialogue. It’s a dialogue that is consumed with ACORN conspiracies and Manchurian presidents. The problem is that by elevating bona fide nutcases, they are debasing honest and informed discourse. The mental cases are crowding out any reasonable voices that might exist amongst the more moderate Republicans (if there are any left). Fox appears to have made a tactical decision to permit the inmates full run of the asylum.
As a result, the Fox News audience is being dumbed down by a parade of paranoid know-nothings. This strategy appears to be successful for Fox in that it has attracted a loyal viewership that is eager to have their twisted preconceptions affirmed. The conflict-infused fare in which Fox specializes is a ratings juggernaut – just like any good fiction. However, this perceived popularity is having an inordinate impact on the GOP platform. By doubling down on crazy, Fox is driving the center of the Republican Party further down the rabid hole. They are reshaping the party into a more radicalized community of conspiracy nuts. So even as this helps Rupert Murdoch’s bottom line, it is making celebrities of political bottom-feeders. That can’t be good for the long-term prospects of the Republican Party.
With the Fox network unabashedly promoting the most ridiculous rumors, myths, and nightmares of the rightist fringe, moderate and independent Americans will grow ever more suspicious of the Fox/GOP agenda. Most Americans do not believe that Sonia Sotomayor is a racist; or that FEMA is constructing concentration camps; or that we are on a march toward socialism, communism, fascism, or whatever the right is peddling this week. Most Americans do not believe that Barack Obama is a Muslim, a reptilian alien, or the anti-Christ. In short, most Americans think that the loopy yarns spun by Fox News are fables told by madmen – and believed by even madder men and women who wallow in their doomsday utopia.
Fox News is fond of boasting about their ratings dominance. It is a daily occurrence and the structural core of their argument that they reflect the mood of America. The GOP has bought this argument in its entirety. So it is important to note here that success in the Nielsen ratings has no correlation to public opinion polling. The ratings only measure the program choices of Nielsen’s survey participants. That is a subset of the population at large, and not a particularly representative one. It is a sample focused on consumers, not voters. And its respondents are just those willing to have their TV viewing monitored 24 hours a day, which skews the sample in favor of people who aren’t creeped out by that. What’s more, viewing choices are not necessarily an endorsement of the opinions presented in the program. There are many reasons people choose to watch TV shows, the most frequent being its entertainment value. So any attempt to tie ratings to partisan politics is a foolish exercise that demonstrates a grievous misunderstanding of the business of television.
As for what constitutes success in the television marketplace, due to the broad diversification of available programming, it doesn’t take much to be heralded as a hit. A mere 3 share (3% of people watching TV) will land you in the top 10. For cable news the bar is set even lower. In fact, the top rated show on the top rated cable news network (The O’Reilly Factor) only gets about 3 million viewers. That’s less than 1% of the American population. It’s also less than World Wrestling Entertainment, SpongeBob SquarePants, and the CBS Evening News (the lowest rated broadcast network news program). By contrast, America’s Got Talent is seen by 12 million viewers – four times O’Reilly’s audience.
Numbers this low ought not to inspire much excitement from political operatives. Nevertheless, Republicans are riding the coattails of Fox News as if it were representative of a booming conservative mandate in the electorate. They are embracing Fox’s most delusional eccentrics. This is leading to the promotion of similar eccentrics within the party. Which brings us the absurd spectacle of the network’s nuts interviewing the party’s pinheads.
The inevitable result of this system of rewarding those farthest from reality is the creation of a constituency of crackpots. It is an endorsement of the philosophy brewed by the Tea Baggers that espouses racism, tyranny, and armed revolt. It is enabling a frightening corps of openly militant adversaries of democracy, free speech, and Constitutional rule. It is the sort of environment that produced the murders of Dr. George Tiller and Holocaust Museum guard Stephen Johns.
This is a textbook example of how the extreme rises to the top. It is also fundamentally contrary to the interests of the Republican Party. The more the population at large associates Republican ideology with the agenda of Fox News, and the fringe operators residing there, the more the party will be perceived as out of touch, or even out of their minds. It seems like such a waste after all of the effort and expense that Fox put into building a pseudo-journalistic enterprise with the goal of confounding viewers with false news-like theatrics.
Make no mistake, Fox News is still managed by hard core party patrons. And I’m not referring just to opinion-driven commentators like Glenn Beck, Bill O’Reilly, and Sean Hannity, although they are bad enough. No, I am talking about executives and editors like CEO, Roger Ailes, former Nixon and Bush media consultant. I’m talking about Washington Managing Editor and VP, Bill Sammon, an avid right-wing alum of the Washington “Moonie” Times. I’m talking about Business News Chief and VP, Neil Cavuto, antagonistic interrupter extraordinaire. And let us not forget the head hype-master, Rupert Murdoch, whose UK operations were just discovered to have been unlawfully wiretapping celebrities, politicians, and even members of the Royal Family. Augmenting that executive roster are the GOP regulars who are straight out of the just retired Republican White House: Karl Rove, Dana Perino, John Bolton, Dan Senor, and Linda Chavez. And then there are the Fox News clowns…er…“contributors” like Dick Morris, Ann Coulter, Fred Barnes, Charles Krauthammer, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, Bernie Goldberg, Michele Malkin, and on and on. If nothing else, Fox is a full-employment program for rightist weasels (and they also operate the Conservative Book Promotion Club).
The mission of Fox News from its inception was to be more than just a voice of opposition to Democrats. It was to utterly crush the left end of the political spectrum leaving only a teetering right wing with no counter balance. Yet, despite the torrid embrace between Republicans and Fox News, it is apparent that Fox is the source of a sort of friendly fire that is decimating the GOP by exalting its most outlandish and unpopular players. And since Republicans have not been particularly popular anyway lately, the anchor being thrown to them by Fox can’t be all that helpful – - – Except to Democrats.
The more things change, the more they get even crazier than they were before.