Fox News Is Hyperventilating About Climate Change vs. Terrorism – Again

One of the most predictable lines of attack on President Obama by Fox News and other right-wing media is to latch unto his commitment to mitigating the catastrophic effects of anthropomorphic climate change, and suggesting that his commitment to fighting terrorism is lax in comparison. The idiocy of that argument has been demonstrated numerous times, but since the right keeps bringing it up like a meal of rotten clams, it still needs to be debunked.

Fox News

The latest regurgitation of this nonsense came when Obama spoke at a press conference with the President of Argentina. He was asked a question about the post-Brussels optics of his decision to stay in Cuba and attend a baseball game. Obama expanded on his previous statement asserting that allowing the terrorists to disrupt our lives would be counter-productive, and that the message we need to send is that “You do not have power over us.”

Obama: Groups like ISIL can’t destroy us. They can’t defeat us. They don’t produce anything. They’re not an existential threat to us. They are vicious killers and murderers who perverted one of the world’s great religions. And their primary power, in addition to killing innocent lives, is to strike fear in our societies, to disrupt our societies, so that the effect cascades from an explosion or an attack by a semi-automatic rifle. And even as we are systematic and ruthless and focused in going after them, disrupting their networks, getting their leaders, rolling up their operations, it is very important for us not to respond with fear.

That profound and powerful statement was contorted into an expression of indifference by the spinmeisters at Fox News with help from CNSNews, a division of the uber-rightist Media Research Center. The problem they had with Obama’s remarks was that they were followed by his support for advancing a positive agenda, including solutions to the very real global threats posed by climate change.

Obama: So it’s important for the U.S. president and the U.S. government to be able to work with people who are building, and who are creating things and creating jobs, and trying to solve major problems like climate change, and setting up educational exchanges for young people who going to create the next great invention or scientific breakthrough that can cure diseases. We have to make sure that we lift up and we stay focused as well on the things that are most important to us.

The Horror! President Obama had the audacity to advocate a path forward that seeks to prevent suffering from disease and worldwide climate-related disasters. Anyone with a clear perspective understands that these are real threats that will affect millions of people. And while terrorism is unarguably agonizing and barbaric, it’s impact is much more narrow in terms of victims. What conservatives want is to terrify people by focusing on the immediacy and bloodshed of incidents like those in Brussels. Which is, ironically, the same thing the terrorists want.

However, most experts on terrorism and international security (including four of the past Secretaries of Defense, three of whom are Republicans) have concluded that climate change, unlike terrorism, is an existential threat. The military has been crystal clear for years about the very real consequences of a world where water and arable land become scarce, and nations erupt into chaos and war. Last year the Rolling Stone published an extensive examination of The Pentagon & Climate Change: How Deniers Put National Security at Risk. Among its many documented examples of the threat certified by numerous military analysts is one that ought to be persuasive to the conservative Republican deniers:

“In 2003, under Donald Rumsfeld, former President George W. Bush’s defense secretary, the Pentagon published a report titled ‘An Abrupt Climate Change Scenario and Its Implications for United States National Security.’ Commissioned by Andrew Marshall, who is sometimes jokingly referred to within the Pentagon as Yoda — and who was a favorite of Rumsfeld’s — the report warned that threats to global stability posed by rapid warming vastly eclipse that of terrorism.

You might think that with Rumsfeld warning about the dangers of climate change from a national security perspective, the naysayers at Fox would keep their mouths shut. You would be wrong. And that’s because their goals have nothing to do with solving problems. The Fox propagandists are tightly focused on bashing the President to the exclusion of any other objective, including the best interests of the American people and the rest of the world.

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

For the record, Obama didn’t just bring up climate change at the press conference to rattle conservative cages. The issue was one of the key subjects on the agenda for his trip to Argentina. And during the visit Obama and Argentina’s President Mauricio Macri agreed to take significant measures to cut carbon emissions from air flights and integrate solar and wind power into electricity grids.

What’s more, the criticism from the right that Obama has not properly prioritized the fight against terrorism in his public statements was put to rest the very same day in these remarks which Fox News neglected to report:

“I’ve got a lot of things on my plate. But my top priority is to defeat ISIL and to eliminate the scourge of this barbaric terrorism that’s been taking place around the world. The issue is how do we do it in an intelligent way. But what we don’t do, and what we should not do, is take approaches that are gonna be counter-productive. So when I hear somebody say we should carpet-bomb Iraq or Syria, not only is that inhumane, not only is that contrary to our values, but that would likely be an extraordinary mechanism for ISIL to recruit more people willing to die and explode bombs in an airport or in a metro station. That’s not a smart strategy.”

In conclusion, Fox News is blatantly disinforming their dimwitted audience when they try to portray Obama as disinterested in terrorism, when in fact it is one of his highest priorities. And they are likewise disinforming their audience by leading them to believe that climate change is not an existential threat, in particular when compared to terrorism. But what they are doing mostly is advancing the interests of terrorists by helping them to spread the fear that is at the heart of their strategy.

In His Own Words: Donald Trump Is Selling Himself Like A Bag Of Cheetos

The Republican Party has saddled itself with one of history’s most repulsive characters in this, or any, election season. Donald Trump is the manifestation of the racism, xenophobia, misogyny, and general anti-intellectualism that has long festered behind a thin veil of the GOP’s pseudo-respectability. As much as many of the party’s relative moderates are embarrassed by Trump, they cannot absolve themselves of responsibility for him.

Donald Trump Cheetos

Trump’s campaign strategy has resembled nothing more than the sort of reality TV battles that made him a household name. He trades in hyperbole and personal attacks and dumbed-down misrepresentations of issues. More often than not he lies without shame to advance his self-serving interests (see the Trump Bullshitopedia) And always, he casts himself as a sort of Messianic savior who is the only hope for rescuing America from the hordes of enemies, within and without, who yearn to destroy us in unspeakably horrific ways.

However, if you pay attention to Trump’s own descriptions of his operational tactics you will find that he is selling himself more like a consumer product than a candidate. Trump is essentially marketing himself like the corny, air-puffed, cheese snack, Cheetos, which has little substance but lots of toxic chemicals and seasoning. And while the comparison has been made before, Trump is surpassing all previous efforts by confessing to his marketing schemes. He is slapping a label on his snake oil that actually says “Snake Oil.”

What follows are some of the comments that expose Trump as a smarmy salesman. And the fact that he is unashamed to admit that his entire candidacy is akin to a pitch for fast food makes it all the more distasteful.

The best place to start is where Trump helpfully defines the marketing premise of his campaign by telling Politico that “I’ve done my job. I’m the product, the product is me.” That was his attempt to explain why he relied on massive rallies to promote himself, rather than the face-to-face town hall gatherings that are the standard in early state primaries. It’s the marketing equivalent of putting up a Superbowl ad instead of having a taste test at a local grocery store. Trump doesn’t really want anyone to get that close for fear of being exposed as a phony.

Way back in 2006 Trump was on the O’Reilly Factor where he laid out for Bill O’Reilly the reason he fights dirty saying that “If I attack on a purely intellectual basis nobody would listen and the response would not be nearly as effective.” So he is admitting that his rancor and bombast is an act designed to bring him more attention. It doesn’t matter if it’s truthful or tactful so long as it has shock value and the media laps it up.

Then there was the time that Trump openly admitted that his antics were crafted to generate drama and controversy: “If I weren’t in the race you’d have the same as you did four years ago, just the same boring things that would be just boring, that’s the way it is. Maybe That’s why The Apprentice was so successful.” In this comment Trump actually openly associates his success as a candidate with success as a contestant on a TV game show.

That shouldn’t surprise anyone after they learn that his measure of power in politics is the same as his measure of power in television: “It’s ratings. I go on one of these shows and the ratings double. They triple. And that gives you power. It’s not the polls. It’s the ratings.” And furthermore, he believes that that capacity for drawing an audience (which rests primarily on appealing to their bloodlust for seeing a horrible train wreck live on the air) puts the TV networks in his debt: “The networks are making a fortune off of me!” Sadly, the networks are buying into that as recently revealed by Les Moonves, the CEO of CBS who said “Who would have thought that this circus would come to town. It may not be good for America, but it’s damn good for CBS. […] Go Donald, go.”

Which brings us to how Trump extends his marketing philosophy to his opponents. He has coined little slogans to disparage other candidates, or anyone whom he regards as an enemy. For instance, “Lyin’ Ted” Cruz and “Little Marco” Rubio. He has also tried to stick labels on Ben Carson as a “psychopath,” Jeb Bush as “low energy,” and Hillary Clinton as “lacking stamina.” What all of these have in common is their resemblance to marketing catch phrases that he repeats every time he mentions their names.

Donald Trump is bound and determined to create a public perception of his rivals as evildoers who strive intentionally to cause harm to America and its good citizens. At the same time he offers himself up as the solution to every problem anyone could ever have. His self-branding positions him as the best at whatever he is currently talking about: building a wall, killing terrorists, creating jobs, curing disease, etc. He is likewise the bestest of friends to the poor, women, veterans, evangelicals, and “the blacks.” In short, he’s an all-purpose elixir to cure whatever ails ya.

This characterization of himself serves the purpose of certifying his role as savior to the ignoramuses who worship him no matter what disgusting thing he says or does. It’s a phenomenon that even the obsequious media has recognized. Trump’s support seems to congeal following some grotesquery like a blatant lie (thousands of Muslims celebrating 9/11), or brazen misogyny (blood coming out of Megyn Kelly’s, whatever), or embrace of hatred (declining to rebuke KKK support), or advocacy of violence (promising to pay the legal fees of supporters who assault protesters).

These are not coincidental factors in his campaign. Trump is deliberately setting up his followers to behave like the zombie fanatics for which he desperately yearns. They are expected to follow him into literal battles as exemplified by his threat of riots at the GOP convention if he is not crowned as the Party’s nominee. His egomaniacal compulsions are typical of a cult leader who requires total devotion from an unquestioning flock. And he is as open about that aspiration as he is about his crass commercialization of politics. He regards his supporters as disciples who will follow him anywhere, as he revealed in this tweet:

“Because of me, the Republican Party has taken in millions of new voters, a record. If they are not careful, they will all leave. Sad!”

And just to reiterate the point, he told Joe Scarborough on MSNBC that “If I go, I will tell you, these millions of people that joined, they’re all coming with me.”

And so the Tribe of Trump is born. And in order to belong you must literally pledge your allegiance. This is a bit more demanding than becoming a part of the Pepsi Generation, but is sold in much the same way – through sloganeering, repetition, and the packaging of a social sect that promises acceptance and the welcoming embrace of a de facto family. Even if it is more like the Manson Family, it still offers a measure of warmth and communion. It is a shield from the tribulations of a world they perceive as hostile with enemies everywhere, including where they used to find friends.

In that regard they have even joined Trump’s war against the most reliably biased right-wing media empire in history, Fox News. Trump’s war on Fox has been joined by his minions who are all too happy to boycott the network to which they once clung obsessively. And Trump eggs them on tweeting “Wow, you are all correct about @FoxNews – totally biased and disgusting reporting.” So what we have here is the Trump Cult competing directly with the Fox News Cult. This should be fun.

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

Trump has adopted a mix of missionary work and marketing that exploits the tried and true methods of televangelists and telemarketers (but I repeat myself). He employs the persuasion technology of modern media to appeal to people’s fear and dependency on a sense of belonging (i.e. white supremacy). And his methods include the emotional power of proselytizing patriotism, faith, and rampant scapegoating of vulnerable minorities. It’s a potent cocktail that approaches a form of mass hypnosis, and it has been used before on frightened and disaffected populations. Which makes it all the more understandable that, by his own admission, Trump is not bothered by comparisons to Hitler. In fact, Trump probably views him as an inspiration and role model.

Hey Fox News, Donald Trump, And All You Other Gutless Republicans: Stop Helping ISIS

One of the first reactions to the tragic bombings in Brussels came from conservative pundits and politicians who berated President Obama for being in Cuba and sticking to his scheduled activities. They were outraged that the President didn’t drop everything and hightail it back to Washington so that he could…

Well, I’m not sure what they thought he could do there that he couldn’t do from Cuba. Still, for some reason they thought he should have tucked his tail between his legs and scurried back to D.C. In the 21st century the notion that a president has to be in the Oval Office for anything to get done is ludicrous. A few years ago Obama was delivering a hilarious address at the White House Correspondent’s Dinner while Seal Team 6 was disposing of Osama Bin Laden. The mission was ordered, engaged, and in progress without the President chained to his desk. And it was an undeniable success. But to the Fox News crowd America is being let down unless terrorists get to decide where our president should be. And if the President isn’t as rash and irrational as wingnuts think he ought to be, the terrorists win.

That’s the sort of defeatist rhetoric that makes life easier for terrorists. They know that they can’t beat the United States in a military battle, so they engage in acts of terror whose only purpose is to spread fear in the West and to promote recruitment to their cause among extremist Muslims. Of course, they don’t have any governmental infrastructure or media apparatus so they depend on the private press to promote their activities. And like every other public relations campaign, the more press coverage they get, the better for their cause.

Fox News ISIS Flag

That’s why the President was right to stay in Cuba and continue with his historic visit, including a baseball game between the Cuban national team and the Tampa Bay Rays. Obama himself put it clearly in remarks to ESPN:

“The whole premise of terrorism is to try to disrupt people’s ordinary lives. […] What they can do is scare, and make people afraid and disrupt our daily lives and divide us. And as long as we don’t allow that to happen, we’re gonna be okay.”

Exactly. So why don’t conservatives get it? The truth is, they probably do, but they would rather scold the President for invented misdeeds than to admit that he is demonstrating strength, wisdom, and representing the nation’s best interests.

People need to realize that these heinous bombings are intended by the terrorists to inflame emotions and draw Western powers into a quagmire on their battlefield. And as if to validate that goal, war hawks among American conservatives are falling for the tactic and calling for an increased military presence in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan, Libya, etc. Donald Trump is even arguing that the U.S. should adopt the tactics of the terrorists in order to fight them on their own terms. He said that…

“I think we have to change our law on, you know, the waterboarding thing, and they can chop off heads, and they can drown people in cages, in heavy steel cages, and we can’t waterboard. So we have to change our laws and we have to be able to fight on an almost equal basis.”

Fighting on an equal basis as terrorists lowers us to their level. It obliterates any moral authority we might have. Trump is an ignorant cretin who can’t grasp the simple concept that America is only worth fighting for because of the principles we embrace. Resorting to the sort of savagery that is embodied by terrorism, including waterboarding and carpet bombing, makes us no better than the enemy and not worthy of defending. Not to mention that it is precisely what the terrorists want. The more they can portray us as the ruthless ones, the more converts they can acquire. Adopting their methods is a dangerous submission to the will of the enemy. Why would anyone want to give the terrorists exactly what they are hoping for? That used to be called treason.

In the process of castigating Obama with their knee-jerk criticisms, conservatives are demeaning not just the President, but the whole country. They make public statements that disparage our military and our resolve to be victorious. That must go over pretty well with the leaders of ISIS and Al Qaeda. When American senators and news commentators characterize our side as “weak” and “losers” it emboldens our enemies and invites them to escalate their attacks. It is also a blatant lie. What these traitors are forgetting (or not bothering to learn) is that…

Since the beginning of the American-led air campaign against ISIS, the coalition has launched 8,000 airstrikes and dropped about 28,000 bombs on ISIS sites in Iraq and Syria. In other words, we’ve been launching about 17 airstrikes and dropping 60 bombs per day. Every day. For over a year.”

These missions have seriously degraded the capabilities of the enemy, including killing more than half of their top commanders. ISIS has lost 40% of the territory it once held in Iraq. A recent U.S. airstrike killed more than 150 terrorists at a Somalia camp. Critical ISIS figures such as Abu Salah, their financial chief in charge of its extortion activities, Hajji Mutazz, a deputy to the leader of ISIS, and chemical weapons expert, Abu Malik, have all been killed in recent actions. Clearly, anyone observing the available facts can see that there is a concerted effort to defeat these enemies. So the political distortions from the right are a dishonest campaign to harm Obama, and by extension the country.

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

None of this is meant to diminish the genuine harm done by barbarians who have no respect for humanity. But it serves no purpose to give them the free advertising they crave. We are fulfilling their desires when we help them to spread fear and to foment despair. The only sane way to react to these events is to acknowledge that they occurred and then stop obsessing over them. Then we can conduct our retaliatory response calmly and decisively. But by no means should we panic, tear out our hair, and give the enemy the impression (and satisfaction) that they have crushed our spirit and won a victory.

President Obama At Cuban Baseball Game

NYT/CBS Poll: Most Republicans Are Embarrassed By Donald Trump, But Will Vote For Him Anyway

How screwed up are Republican voters? That question may seem unnecessary to anyone who has been watching the GOP primary campaign this election season. It began with seventeen candidates, most of whom never had any hope of success, and some of whom were just plain delusional. And as the field narrowed, the remaining candidates represented the worst of the party’s fringe element. And that’s not even counting Donald Trump.

Donald Trump Voter

What really makes the Republican Party a fall-down laughing stock is something that was revealed in a new poll from the New York Times and CBS News:

“Alarmed by the harsh attacks and negative tone of their presidential contest, broad majorities of Republican primary voters view their party as divided and a source of embarrassment and think that the campaign is more negative than in the past.”

That’s right. Sixty percent of Republican primary voters said the campaign had made them feel mostly embarrassed about their party. The reasons they cite are exclusively associated with the grotesqueness of the Trump campaign: his boorish, unpresidential demeanor, lack of substance, and advocacy of violence. And yet, 46% say that they favor him to be the party’s nominee, twenty points higher than their next choice, Ted Cruz. In fact, half of all voters said they would be “scared” if Trump were elected president, and another 19% said they would be “concerned.” And their concern would be justified, not just because of his unfitness to be president, but because both Clinton and Sanders hold double-digit leads over him in head-to-head match-ups.

So Republican voters are saying that they want Trump to be president despite the fact that they are embarrassed by him as a candidate and afraid of the prospect of his presidency. What sort of sickness would cause people to make such contorted decisions about something so important? Whatever it is, it is the reason that I said way back in September of last year that Donald Trump is just a symptom, Republicans are the disease:

“The fact that his hateful idiocy has caught on with a significant faction of the Republican electorate isn’t his fault. Trump’s support isn’t coming from the back seat of his limo. There are actual voters lining up to align themselves with his noxious brand and without them he would be an asterisk in the polls.”

What’s truly frightening is that so many Republicans are willing to support someone that they affirmatively find embarrassing. The results of this poll should be a source of ongoing concern for the health of our democracy. We probably won’t know until July if Trump actually becomes the GOP nominee, and he may be dumped by party insiders at the convention. But it will be hard to wipe off the stink he has attached to the party and, even after he inevitably flames out, the ignorance and bigotry that are the hallmarks of his campaign will remain. The cult of Trump isn’t new. It’s just the latest incarnation of the Tea Party and the Fox News Church of Right-Wing Crackpottery.

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

One last note, if it makes Republicans feel any better, most Democrats are also embarrassed by Donald Trump. But they’re also embarrassed by Republicans who would still vote for him despite their embarrassment.

Donald Trump Defenders Freak Out, Blame MoveOn.org And George Soros For Protests

The increasing incidences of violence at rallies for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump are unambiguously incited by Trump’s own rancid rhetoric and open encouragement of hostility. No one can reasonably deny that Trump’s vocal approval of punching protesters in the face or carrying them out on stretchers doesn’t have an effect on his already enraged minions.

foxnation-trump-moveon

Nevertheless, the Trump Defense League is in full denial mode as they seek to absolve their Dear Leader of any responsibility for the ruckus that occurs only where Trump treads. They argue that the protesters are a conspiratorial lot that have been assembled by leftist overlords for the purpose of destroying The Donald’s crusade to make America hate again.

At the top of the list of puppet masters is the nefarious MoveOn.org. The Trump Defenders are convinced that MoveOn is orchestrating every one of the individuals who separately engage in acts of dissent at Trump’s rallies across the country. Sean Hannity is among the MoveOn accusers saying that their “liberal fascism” is behind a campaign to “silence any voice that liberals disagree with.” Hannity’s Fox News comrade Bill O’Reilly is also on the anti-MoveOn bandwagon saying that they are “far-left agitators who do not believe in freedom of speech.”

On Fox & Friends they hosted rightist crackpot Wayne Allen Root who tarred Trump’s hecklers as “leftist radicals, most of them paid protesters by MoveOn.org.” Also on the program was Peter Johnson, Jr, Roger’s Ailes’ personal attorney, who described MoveOn as sowing “the seeds of terror.” Trump’s own spokesperson, Katrina Pierson, charged MoveOn with initiating the violence saying that “They go into these Trump rallies and they start swinging and kicking.” And Trump surrogate Sarah Palin colorfully insulted the protesting as “punk ass little thuggery stuff.”

What almost all of these critics added to their harangues was that MoveOn is not just some obscure band of subversives. No, it is a cog in an evil plot managed by a notorious super-villain. And fortunately they have one with an unsettling Hungarian accent and a few billion dollars to finance his dastardly schemes. That’s right, it’s George Soros and he’s back. Whenever the right needs to manufacture a nebulous and all-consuming dread, it trots out the specter of Soros.

In the ensuing frenzy of indictments of MoveOn as the right’s imaginary architect of acrimony, virtually every conservative media reference to them is prepended with the Soros label. If you didn’t know better you might come away thinking that the full, official name of the activist organization is “the Soros-funded MoveOn.org.” However, that’s an indicator of just how obsessed the right is with dangling Soros’ name to frighten their dimwitted throngs. Because if any of them were interested in reality they could easily look up the facts and discover that, while Soros did make sizable donations to MoveOn in the past (about $2.5 million), he has not done so since 2004. Apparently twelve years is not enough time for conservatives at Fox News and elsewhere to retire the “Soros-funded” branding.

As another example of the right’s fetish, the wingnut rag, Daily Caller (which is run by Fox’s Tucker Carlson) posted a bombshell exclusive that heralded their discovery that a Soros “associate” had contributed $200,000 to Gov. John Kasich’s presidential super PAC. That article was intended by the uber-rightist Daily Caller to stigmatize the comparatively moderate Kasich as the left’s favorite Republican. However, the Soros associate identified in the piece was Scott Bessent, a longtime Republican donor who has given hundreds of thousands of dollars to GOP candidates, PACs, and party committees. His donation to Kasich’s campaign was from personal funds and had nothing to do with George Soros. But that didn’t stop much of the wingnut mediasphere from blasting out headlines about Soros bankrolling Kasich.

This is emblematic of the mindset of the right that needs cartoonish demons to invoke the horror of an amorphous liberal threat. They need to be frightened into mobilizing against a monstrous enemy that will thrust the world into chaos and oblivion. How many times have you heard the right swear that Obama’s election, or reelection, or ObamaCare, or Climate Change mitigation, or immigration, or [fill in the scary blank], would doom America and the world to extinction? So rather than recognize the glaring evidence of Trump’s incitation to riot, right-wingers point their bony fingers to George Soros, or Saul Alinsky, or ACORN, or Barack Obama, or the armies of gay-married, Muslims on food stamps who are coming for your guns and fossil fuels. Be AFRAID!

Not to be left out, the Fox News community website, Fox Nation, joined in with a post linked to the “Moonie” Washington Times that feverishly proclaimed “Moveon.Org Raising Funds from Trump Protests, Warns More Disruptions to Come.” The article alleges a frightful conspiracy that is really nothing more than the standard fundraising of a non-profit group that is asking for three bucks to continue their public service activities. There is nothing in it that even remotely implies advocating any form of physical harm to persons or property. To the contrary, MoveOn is, and always has been, committed to peaceful dissent. And their current anti-Trump campaign is no different. Contrast that with the Fox Nation audience that has once again demonstrated their vile racism and embrace of volence (see The Collected Hate Speech Of The Fox News Community).

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

Fox Nation

Tea And Trumpets: How Fox News Covers Protesters Depends On Who They Are Protesting

Watching the noxious campaign of Donald Trump continue to devolve into ever deeper levels of assholery is becoming a greater challenge with every passing day. His embrace of hostile rhetoric and refusal to convincingly condemn the aggression of his minions is leading to easily predictable episodes of chaos and violence. There is a reason that he is the only candidate that is suffering these problems.

Donald Trump

Trump’s accomplice in this spread of acrimony is, not surprisingly, Fox News. The reports of the protests by Fox are characteristically unfair and acutely unbalanced. They rarely acknowledge that Trump is the instigator of the rancor that his followers have gleefully adopted. In fact, more often than not Fox portrays the protesters has initiating the violence. Never mind that there is no evidence whatsoever of that ever happening. What exactly did the folks at Fox think would happen when Trump told his followers that he would pay their legal fees if they were arrested for assaulting a protester? What did they think Trump was trying to convey when he said this:

“Part of the problem and part of the reason it takes so long is nobody wants to hurt each other anymore, right? […] There used to be consequences. There are none anymore.”

And this:

“I love the old days. You know what they used to do to guys like that when they were in a place like this? They’d be carried out on a stretcher, folks. It’s true. … I’d like to punch him in the face, I’ll tell you.”

And that only scratches the surface (here are a bunch more). Trump could not be making it any clearer that he’s fond of the idea of physical altercations and that if you support him, you should be too. This is coming from someone who is now trying to pass himself off as a unifier. Before he can plausibly claim to being able to unite his party, or the country, or to make all the amazing deals he boasts about, shouldn’t he be able to settle his differences with these protesters? How on Earth would he ever be able to bring peace to the Middle East if he can’t bring it to Chicago?

It is in this environment that Fox News offers up perverse tales of peaceful demonstrators inviting the attacks that are waged on them. The Fox spin is that they are all engaged in a secret conspiracy to destroy the Trump Crusade by getting themselves beat up and arrested. Fox is actually theorizing that there is a plot afoot that is backed by evil and powerful puppet masters of the left. For instance, Fox anchor Doug McKelway prefaced a question to a guest this morning with this brazen bias:

“There have been suggestions that MoveOn.org is behind a lot of this orchestrated violence.”

First of all, there have been no suggestions of the sort by anyone but McKelway’s bosses at Fox News. Secondly, the baseless charge of “orchestrated violence” is posed falsely by Fox as if it were a matter of fact. Not only is it not factual, it’s a blatant lie that Fox deliberately inserted into the debate. The only thing here that is orchestrated is Fox’s defamation of the protesters.

As another example of their well-coordinated talking points, anchor Neil Cavuto implied, with no evidence, that Media Matters and George Soros were responsible for the Chicago protests. His guest, former GE CEO Jack Welch, added Bill Ayres and MoveOn to the mix of lefty conspirators. Then Welch said that “If we’re gonna have riots, we ought to have riots aimed at what Bernie Sanders has to say about tearing our country down.” To which Cavuto replied “Yeah, you’re right.”

So Fox is not attempting to calm down the rhetoric at all, Instead, they are trying to sustain it, but shift the victims to the side that they don’t like. This is Fox’s way of telling their viewers to show up at a Sanders rally and start a riot. Note that Welch’s assertion that there have been riots already is utterly false, but that didn’t stop him from expressing his desire to starting some. Note also that the candidate that is most often tearing our country down is Donald Trump, who frequently says that the American dream is dead, and that America is a Hell hole, and that all of our leaders are stupid losers, and that the economy is a bubble that is about to burst, etc., etc.

It wasn’t long ago that Fox News considered protesters to be noble defenders of patriotism. Whenever there was a Tea Party rally, Fox was there to celebrate them as civic minded citizens who were fighting to restore their twisted version of the Constitution. The Tea Party was hailed as champions of freedom, despite the fact that they were actually a creation of the billionaire Koch brothers, with help from Fox News. And when they crashed public meetings by shouting down anyone with whom they disagreed, Fox cheered and brought them into the studio the next day for a slobbering interview.

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

So here’s the difference in how Fox News will cover protesters. If you’re wearing a tri-corner hat and carrying a Gadsden flag, Fox will devote countless hours of airtime to glorifying your efforts on behalf of God and country, even if you illegally seize government property and threaten to shoot law enforcement officers (i.e. the Bundy Klan). But if you deign to Occupy Wall Street or demonstrate against a bigoted, orange-haired narcissist with designs on an American dictatorship, Fox will smear you as a subversive who wants to turn America over to ISIS. And don’t forget, free speech is a right that is only available to ultra-rightists and conservative blowhards. It does not extend to people opposed to them. And if you attempt to exercise it you will be subject to slander and defamation by Fox News.

Hillary’s America: Ex-Con’s Anti-Clinton Documentary Whitewashes The Right’s Ties To The KKK

The architects of the long-festering anti-Clinton crusades are often people who are demonstrably lacking in ethics or honesty. Take for example ex-con Dinesh D’Souza. Two years ago he pleaded guilty to election fraud. Prior to that he was forced to resign as the dean of a Catholic university due to his marital infidelity. This paragon of virtue, who is presenting himself as a spokesman for conservative values, has a follow-up to his 2012 crocumentary, “Obama’s America,” wherein he attempted to portray Hillary Clinton and President Obama as a hippie and a street thug.

The Hippie & The Street Thug

Setting aside those sexist and racist characterizations, D’Souza utterly failed to make any coherent points and his cinematic tantrum had no impact on the election that he hoped to swing to the right. So naturally he is returning with a new screed aimed directly at Clinton titled “Hillary’s America.” If her administration wound up being anything like Obama’s, then the stock market would double again, there would be another 72 straight months of private sector job growth, the percent of Americans without health insurance would be cut in half again, and the deficit would be cut by another two-thirds. What a nightmare.

The trailer for D’Souza’s new film (video below) reveals that it intends to continue an absurd and dishonest argument about racism in America. It begins with a D’Souza voice-over asking “Who are these Democrats?” Before answering that question he whines that “It all began when the Obama administration tried to shut me up.” That’s a reference to his prosecution and incarceration for election fraud to which he admitted guilt. He doesn’t explain how that sneaky rascal Obama got him to break the law by illegally funding a Republican Senate candidate. However, he does dismiss his own criminality to claim that “The big criminals are still at large,” while showing video of Clinton and Obama.

The meat of this propaganda piece appears to be centered on D’Souza’s allegations that the modern Democratic Party is closely tied to the Ku Klux Klan and supports slavery. This is one of the favorite lies of far-right cranks and Republican apologists for bigotry. It is based on the sliver of fact that 150 years ago southern Democrats were angry with Abraham Lincoln’s abolitionist policies and formed hate groups to oppose him. But the flaky right obsessively ignores the reality that Democrats cast off those positions in the 1950’s and 1960’s as they advanced comprehensive civil and voting rights legislation.

As a result, the bigots in the party fled en masse to a welcoming Republican Party that opposed advancements in equality and swelled the ranks of the white supremacist organizations. Former Democrats like Strom Thurmond became leaders of the GOP’s segregationist contingent. And today it is still the Republican Party that is throwing up roadblocks to the voting rights and non-discrimination bills that are proposed by Democrats. It is not coincidental that Donald Trump’s candidacy is backed by David Duke and other white supremacists. And it isn’t just Trump that draws those racists to the GOP. Anyone who can deny that it is the Republican Party that is the home of Confederacy-loving racists is either lying through their teeth, oblivious to reality, or painfully stupid.

D’Souza appeared at this year’s ultra-rightist CPAC convention to promote the film. He revealed his intention to release it during the Democratic National Committee’s convention in July. Clearly he thinks he’s going to disrupt the news cycle with his wingnut fan fiction, but more likely it will get lost amid the more newsworthy events associated with launching the Democrats’ presidential nominee into the general election. So he was reduced to begging the CPAC attendees to see the film on its opening weekend in the hopes of building buzz. [Side note: D’Souza will have wasted a lot of time and his sponsors money if Bernie Sanders ends up being the nominee]

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

The Cult Of Fox News: Blind Devotion To Cable’s Church Of Disinformation Continues

While researching an article on the cultish components of Donald Trump’s campaign and the branding strategy behind it (stay tuned for that.) I came across an article I wrote a little over a year ago that addressed the same subject, but with respect to Fox News. Having read it again it seemed to still be so relevant to the Fox News of today that it deserved a second look. So here it is in its entirety.


Pray for Fox News

One of the fundamental methods employed by cults to assure unwavering loyalty is to demand that devotees believe only in the doctrine bestowed by the cult. All others are presumed to be deceivers and unworthy of trust.

With that in mind, consider the results of the new Pew Research study on “Political Polarization & Media Habits.” The year-long research surveyed American news consumers and categorized their relationships to thirty-six sources for news and information about government and politics by political ideology. The differences in the levels of trust exhibited by consistent conservatives and liberals are profound.

The study reveals that conservatives have drastically constrained their access to news to a very few, hard-right outlets. They behave as if any exposure to a conflicting viewpoint would be tantamount to fraternizing with Satan. Consequently, they rely almost solely on Fox News for their information intake. That is how Fox maintains their ratings position, by herding all of the conservative cattle into one corral.

Nearly half (47%) of conservatives identify Fox News as their “main source” for news. Nothing else even comes close. Compare that to liberals who cite CNN as a main source only 15% of the time with a half dozen other sources closely competing for their attention. What’s more, conservatives obediently trust Fox News by a larger margin (88%) than any other group of viewers. And the only other sources they trust more than 50% of the time are similarly far-right partisans: Sean Hannity (62%), Rush Limbaugh (58%), and Glenn Beck (51%). Of course, none of those sources are objective news providers, or even journalists.

While Conservatives have only four sources that they trust more than 50% of the time, liberals express trust for nine different sources at that rate: NPR (72%), PBS (71%), BBC (69%), New York Times (62%), CNN (56%), NBC (56%), MSNBC (52%), ABC (52%), and CBS (51%). Note that they are all (with the exception of MSNBC) generally regarded as legitimate journalistic enterprises. Except, that is, by conservatives who trust none of them. In fact, conservatives only have greater trust than distrust for twelve of the thirty-six sources in the study. So consistent with the cult maxim, conservatives actively distrust twenty-four (two-thirds) of the sources. Liberals flip that stat, having greater trust for twenty-eight of the sources and distrust for only eight.

The mission of Fox News from the beginning was to divide the nation by ideology. It is why they came up with their “fair and balanced” slogan with the implicit accusation that the other news providers were neither. They deliberately sectioned off their audience and told them that everyone else was lying to them. Subsequently, when they lied to their viewers (which they do constantly), there is no place for them to turn for the actual truth. The Fox version of events becomes the unqualified gospel for their audience/disciples despite being riddled with falsehoods and rancid partisanship. And additional proof of that is seen in the studies that show that Fox viewers are less informed than those who watch other media, or even those who watch nothing at all. And the more you watch Fox, the less you know.

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

The correlations to cult status are unmistakable: Proselytize relentlessly (Fox is #1); repeat/preach the cult’s doctrine (anti-Obama, anti-government, Benghazi); reinforce obedience with fear (tyranny, terrorism, Ebola); glorification of idols (Ronald Reagan, Ted Cruz, Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin); demonization of competing views (Democrats, the rest of the media); and fabricating a comforting home for faithful followers by casting experienced propagandists and appealing, mostly blonde, presenters as reporters. It’s a closed loop society that succeeds by keeping the flock secluded, ignorant, and artificially happy. I just hope they don’t start serving Kool-Aide.

The Trump Effect: Bad For America, But ‘Damn Good’ For The Media

Les Moonves, the chief executive of CBS, was speaking at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media, and Telecom Conference, when he decided to reveal one of the sad truths of modern media that is well known to insiders. It’s something that is representative of the core principles (or lack thereof) of a once noble profession that has been co-opted by greed and the corporate craving for power. With reference to the campaign of Donald Trump, Moonves was caught bragging about the cash cash cow he was unashamedly milking.

Moonves: Who would have thought that this circus would come to town. It may not be good for America, but it’s damn good for CBS. That’s all I got to say. So what can I say? The money’s rolling in, this is fun.

Donald Trump

Make no mistake, this is an admission by Moonves that his lust for profit is a higher priority than his love of country. Worse still, this pursuit of wealth, in Moonves’ view, is actually fun, even as it’s harmful to the rest of the nation and his fellow citizens. That is a form treason. Yet Moonves admits that despite Trump’s campaign being divisive, hostile, racist, ignorant, and detrimental to the well being of the United States, he gladly welcomes the damage it will do so long as CBS rakes in more cash.

And CBS isn’t alone in harboring these traitorous ambitions. The whole of the corporate media industry is guilty of the same self-interest. It’s why even MSNBC airs Trump’s stump speeches live in their entirety when they don’t do it for any other candidate. And it’s the result of the consolidation within the business that has thrust the profit motive over patriotism. These new multinational conglomerates have no incentive to be loyal to any nation, or to any anything other than their next quarterly earnings report. The one exception to this may be Fox News, whose owners and management are just as committed to pushing right-wing propaganda as they are to enriching their themselves.

The profit incentive for the media has a toxic effect on democracy. It produces reporting that is driven by motives other than honestly informing the public. What Moonves is putting on display for all to see is the damage that can be done when a news enterprise can be justifiably suspected of distorting their stories in order to fatten their wallets. Moonves was literally rooting for Trump specifically because his brand of melodramatic demagoguery draws more eyeballs to the advertising the network is now selling for inflated rates.

Moonves: I’ve never seen anything like this and this is going to be a very good year for us. Sorry, it’s a terrible thing to say, but bring it on, Donald, go ahead, keep going. […] “I’m not taking any sides, I’m just saying for us, economically, Donald Trump’s place in this election is a good thing.

With cheerleading like that, how can anyone watch this campaign coverage and be confidant that they are being told the truth. Clearly, the media has a profit motive to keep Trump in the race, and even boost his chances of securing the Republican nomination in order to keep the register ringing straight through to November and beyond. The other candidates are being deep-sixed because they can’t pull in the big bucks the way The Donald does.

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

This isn’t democracy. There may not be a word for what this is. We could call it a capitalocracy to illustrate the fact that the worst elements of capitalism are what determines who our leaders will be. We may as well stop having elections and just give prospective candidates their own TV shows and the one with the highest Nielsen ratings becomes president. Oh wait a minute. That’s pretty much how Donald Trump got to where he is today.

Is Tea Party Godfather Charles Koch Feeling The Bern?

The Washington Post (you know, that bastion of the so-called “liberal” media) just published an op-ed by Charles Koch of the infamous Koch brothers. The headline declared that “This is the one issue where Bernie Sanders is right.” While that’s a fairly generous admission, it is hardly representative of Koch’s actual worldview.

Koch Brothers Bernie Sanders

Koch begins his article by acknowledging the obvious – that he and Sanders “disagree on plenty when it comes to public policy.” Then he disingenuously asserts that he sees benefits in searching for common ground and greater civility.” That’s a bit difficult to believe coming from someone who has spent years bankrolling Teabaggers, the most uncivil movement of rightist malcontents in decades. Nevertheless, Koch sought to align himself with part of the Sanders platform of income inequality:

“The senator is upset with a political and economic system that is often rigged to help the privileged few at the expense of everyone else, particularly the least advantaged. He believes that we have a two-tiered society that increasingly dooms millions of our fellow citizens to lives of poverty and hopelessness. He thinks many corporations seek and benefit from corporate welfare while ordinary citizens are denied opportunities and a level playing field.”

While criticizing policies of both parties that “helps perpetuate a cycle of control,” Koch also took the opportunity to lash out at the regulations that have been a staple of his anti-government agenda. And he remains opposed to the sort of reforms that make it possible for people rise out of poverty (i.e. ObamaCare, unions, increasing the minimum wage, non-discrimination in employment, parental leave, etc.).

Despite the facade of a conciliatory partner in advancing the interests of all Americans, Charles Koch and his brother David are devoted to the fraternity of the one-percent to which they belong. They enjoy the fruits of income inequality. They are ardent foes of environmental protection and programs to mitigate climate change. Even worse, they would abolish the EPA, even while their businesses are among the worst toxic polluters in the nation. They favor privatizing Social Security and Medicare. They create media front groups to spread right-wing propaganda. And they are the biggest supporters and beneficiaries of Citizens United.

In addition to all of the above, the Koch brothers virtually created the Tea Party. Groups like FreedomWatch and Americans for Prosperity are nothing more than surrogates for the disgruntled goofballs who dress up in tri-corner hats and carry racist signs with pictures of President Obama as a witch doctor. The Koch brothers have invested multi-millions of dollars in the Tea Party in an attempt to crush Democrats and replace them with the sort of hard-line, right-wing extremists that have produced gridlock in Congress. They lust for shutdowns of government even if it means sinking the economy or denying healthcare for 9/11 first-responders.

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

This article is just another component of their campaign to rehabilitate their public image, cleverly referred to as “The New Koch” by Jane Mayer of the New Yorker. But, they are just as committed to their wingnut agenda as ever. They announced that they will spend nearly a billion dollars in the 2016 election cycle in support of conservative Republicans who promise to dismantle the government, leaving them free to pollute the planet and plunder the economy. So don’t let this faux Valantine to Bernie Sanders fool you. The Koch brothers are what they have always been: John Birch Society Libertarians with strong Ayn Rand leanings.