Loving And (Mostly) Hating Fox News: Bill O’Reilly’s Desperation Is Showing

Not since the days of Keith Olbermann’s reign at MSNBC has Bill O’Reilly resorted to such relentless attacks on the network. His perceived victimization by a media cabal that he says is simultaneously impotent and omnipotent is reaching psychotic levels. And all of this is due to the fountain of lies that he has been spewing for decades and for which he is now being called upon to answer.

O’Reilly’s latest retaliatory harangue (video below) came at the opening of Monday’s Factor where he set out to claim once again that everything he does is sanctified by God because he has high ratings (First Church of Nielsen the Redeemer). His Talking Points Memo, titled “Hating Fox News,” heralded a new Quinnipiac poll that O’Reilly bragged “shows that Americans trust Fox News more than any other TV news agency by a substantial margin.”

Fox News

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As anyone familiar with O’Reilly’s aversion to the truth would know, he did not tell the whole story. The same poll shows that Fox News is also the network that is least trusted by Americans. Now why do you suppose he left that out? The fact that Fox received a vote of confidence from 29% of the poll’s respondents means that 71% trusted another network more. That is not exactly something of which to be proud. What’s more if you add up the two categories of positive responses for trusted networks (a great deal + somewhat), Fox News is second to the last. It beats only MSNBC by a mere 3%.

If anyone is “Hating Fox News” it is the majority of the American people who reject its frothing hostility, fear mongering, and perversion of the facts. But no one should mistake O’Reilly’s tirade for a reasoned commentary on the popularity of the media. This rant is a thinly veiled assault on those who are demanding that he come clean about the frequent lies he has told to portray himself as an intrepid reporter risking life and limb to bring truth to the people. But rather than taking on his critics forthrightly, he takes a more cowardly approach by pretending to be a victim of powerful enemies seeking the destruction of his employer. He’s attacking a broader, ambiguous foe because he’s afraid to face his critics head on. And of course that foe is, in his mind, a humongous titan of evil, even though he also insists that it is a weakling that has no support and can’t compare to the superhuman powers of Fox News.

Somehow all of this makes sense in O’Reilly’s cartoon brain. However, his campaign against his critics consists entirely of bluster, distractions, and outright threats. That’s why in Monday’s program he never once addressed the growing number of documented falsehoods he has been caught telling. He just continued boasting about his ample audience and the prominent role that Fox News plays in shaping the American media.

On that note, O’Reilly pulled back the curtain on the journalistic fraud that is Fox News. The facade of fairness and balance is just another one of the lies that are baked into the Fox mission. In this one episode O’Reilly repeatedly confessed to the unethical biases of Fox. For instance, he said that…

“Our primetime programs set the political agenda.”

“The fact is that Fox News is now a deep threat to the progressive movement and the far left despises us so they are in full attack mode desperately trying to marginalize FNC.”

“There are just two national news agencies that challenge the progressive agenda with authority: the Wall Street Journal editorial page and the Fox News Channel.”

“If FNC did not exist, America would be a far different place and the far left ideology would have a far easier time. But we do exist and now dominate the primetime news cycle. Not good news for progressive politicians, the liberal media, and crazed zealots on both sides.”

How are any of those overtly partisan statements consistent with the practice of professional journalism? O’Reilly is admitting that Fox is a political advocate of the right. This is why most media observers regard Fox as nothing more than the PR division of the Republican Party. Additionally, O’Reilly’s analysis that Fox’s very existence is bad news for progressives flies in the face of reality. Someone should inform him that President Obama was elected twice despite the existence of Fox which fought so hard against him.

There is one thing, however, that O’Reilly got right. America would be a far different place without Fox. There would be far less wingnut propaganda and conspiracy theories masquerading as news. We wouldn’t have to deal with wild goose chases for presidential birth certificates or claims that snowballs disprove the scientific evidence of Climate Change. Mentions of Sarah Palin and Donald Trump would produce confused looks and replies of “Who?” And the Tea Party would still be a gathering of folks who appreciate brewed herbs and pastries.

News Corpse Presents: The ALL NEW 2nd volume of
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

Watch Bill Maher Let Loose On ‘Blatant, Bald-Assed Liar’ Bill O’Reilly

The heat is being turned up on pathological liar Bill O’Reilly and his enablers at Fox News. The numerous accounts of his deliberately falsifying his resume with self-aggrandizing tales of journalistic heroism continue to be the source of deserved criticism and ridicule. The latest dishonorable mention for O’Reilly comes from comedian Bill Maher, who was characteristically candid on his HBO program last night (video below).

Bill O'Reilly - Bill Maher

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Maher was puzzled about the lack of attention that O’Reilly has received from much of the press for his obvious embellishments and outright lies about his experiences as a reporter. So Maher let O’Reilly’s own words bury him by merely reading the things that O’Reilly said that have been proven to be false.

“These are out-and-out lies. Now, I understand why Fox News backs him because they’re not really a news service. They’re like, ‘You expect the truth? That’s not what we do here.’ But why isn’t the mainstream media going after him with the same ferocity – the supposedly ‘liberal media’ – as they did to Brian Williams?”

Good question. At this point the evidence of O’Reilly’s dishonesty is overwhelming. His resorting to overt threats aimed at reporters covering the story is typical of his bullying tactics. His cowardly refusal to address the substance of the allegations proves that he has no defense other than to shout and stamp his feet and brag about his ratings.

Indeed, O’Reilly’s ratings are quite good for a cable news program. But that’s nothing to brag about when your product is unmitigated bullcrap. By failing to hold O’Reilly accountable, Fox News is embracing and condoning his moral and professional transgressions and conceding that their network proudly employs liars and engages in unabashed deception. It is an insult to their viewers who they presume will accept any heaping portion of steaming shitola that’s put in front of them. Well, on that note Fox may be right. After all, their viewers have been eating up O’Reilly and Sean Hannity and Sarah Palin and Donald Trump for years.

The mindset of Fox was perfectly framed by Maher’s conservative panelist, Genevieve Wood of the ultra-rightist Heritage Foundation. She excused Fox’s failure to sanction O’Reilly because, unlike Williams who acknowledged and apologized for his embellishments, O’Reilly stubbornly denies that he misrepresented anything in his past, the facts notwithstanding. In a state of severe delusional panic, Wood said…

“Fox is going to defend him as long as he’s saying ‘I did what I said I did,’ and nobody else is really able to challenge it.”

Huh? Everybody else is able to challenge it. And it isn’t just people who have different recollections of the distant past. There are contemporaneous videos and tape recordings of O’Reilly himself that contradict his present day mythologies about his grand adventures. But Wood’s justification neatly fits the Fox view of news. They regard it as a mutable commodity that can be molded to whatever serves their agenda. And Fox will indeed continue to defend O’Reilly because he is doing what they pay him to do – which is to lie.

Consequently, it is time that the rest of the media acknowledge that Fox is not in any way, shape, or form a news enterprise. They are purveyors of propaganda and disseminaters of deception. They have no journalistic principles or respect for their audience. They are comfortable with liars like O’Reilly because lying doesn’t violate their standards, it upholds them. And for those who say that O’Reilly’s malfeasance is different than Williams’ because O’Reilly is an opinion commentator and not a journalist, they need to remember that he was, in fact, a journalist when he did the things about which he is lying today. Also, when discussing factual events there is no exemption from truth-telling for opinion commentators.

Finally, for those who say that catching Fox News lying isn’t newsworthy because everyone knows they do it, that is a cop-out. It remains the obligation of legitimate news operations to report the sort of serious departures from the truth that O’Reilly has demonstrated. And any news organization that condones such dishonesty must not be treated as a credible news source. The media cannot continue to pretend that Fox has anything to do with news.

News Corpse Presents: The ALL NEW 2nd volume of
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

Fox Nation vs. Reality: You Have To Read This (Irrelevant) Email

For most of the past week the news cycle has been decidedly unfavorable to conservatives. Bill O’Reilly’s reputation is in tatters after several examples of his lying to stroke his own ego were revealed. The congressional failure to pass a funding bill for the Department of Homeland Security has exposed the GOP as inept at governing. And the annual CPAC circus has given right-wing Republicans more airtime than usual to embarrass themselves.

Consequently, Fox News is fishing for a scandal to get frantic over to fill the void, and they think they found one.

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Actually, they are just warming over an old scandal that they hope has enough pus left in it to ooze out some more wingnut bile. Featured on the Fox News community website Fox Nation is an item with the tantalizing title “You Have To Read This Recovered Email From Lois Lerner” Lerner, you may recall, is the whipping gal of the GOP’s House Committee on Heckling Obama. The budding scandalette revolves around the Treasury Department’s disclosure that 32,000 emails were found on backup tapes. Not mentioned by Republicans on the committee is that the emails may all be duplicates that the committee already has.

What the Fox Nationalists chose to highlight was a tweet by the committee, that is filled with gleeful anticipation. It said “If you can believe it, here’s an actual email sent by Lois Lerner:” The content of the “unbelievable” email reads “No one will ever believe that both your hard drive and mine crashed within a week of each other. Life is strange.”

The implication is that Lerner was communicating with a colleague about their covert conspiracy to conceal an alleged plot to subject conservative organizations seeking non-profit status to greater scrutiny. After endless hearings and hyperbolic exclamations of unveiled “bombshells,” they never found any evidence of wrongdoing. Nevertheless, the Republican smear machine rattled on. And now, once again, they are crowing about some investigative victory. The problem is that they haven’t got the brains to put together a coherent case of misconduct.

The new email that they are so excited about is not a confession of any sort. If anything it exonerates Lerner and her ePenPals. With language like “life is strange” she is plainly expressing genuine surprise that the hard drives failed at around the same time. That proves that it wasn’t a planned scheme to destroy evidence. Lerner certainly would not write something incriminating in an email right after supposedly trashing hard drives to eliminate incriminating emails. And if further proof is needed, the email in question is dated June 29, 2011, two years before there was any investigation of the department’s activities. So there wouldn’t be any reason for Lerner to be tampering with correspondence that no one was looking for, and wasn’t considered to be evidence of anything.

That’s how lame this new “discovery” that “you have to read” is. It’s pathetic that the Oversight Committee would furiously tweet this utterly pointless message. And it is similarly ludicrous that Fox News would regurgitate it as if it had some significance other than to manufacture suspicion. But that’s really all they have, so they’re going with it.

News Corpse Presents: The ALL NEW 2nd volume of
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

To Rachel Maddow: Fox News Doesn’t Give A Fig About Bill O’Reilly’s Lies And Threats

The scandal engulfing Fox News, and its star blowhard Bill O’Reilly, is picking up steam as well as new allegations of dishonesty and flagrant self-glorification. The latest episodes of O’Reilly inventing harrowing journalistic adventures include his false assertion that he was present at the suicide of a figure associated with the assassination of John F. Kennedy, and his claim to have witnessed nuns being executed in El Salvador.

The initial response to the evidence that O’Reilly repeatedly lied about his experiences in Argentina as a “war zone” correspondent “in the Falklands” was to launch an attack on the reporters who exposed him and the so-called “liberal” media overall. He called them “liars, guttersnipes,” and “far-left zealots.” Even worse, when approached by a reporter from the New York Times he warned her that if he was unhappy with the story “I am coming after you with everything I have. You can take it as a threat.”

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Last night on MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Show, the issue was raised to inquire as to whether O’Reilly’s turpitude might disturb his employers or colleagues (video below). Maddow did an excellent job of explaining the events that led up to O’Reilly’s threats, but then she entertained the following scenario:

“Fox News has a bunch of folks like Mr. O’Reilly on their shows. It’s part of why I call them Republican TV. But they also have a lot of real reporters on staff who do real reporting all day long on real news. They have White House correspondents, and congressional reporters, and even media reporters. And I’m sure they don’t take kindly when their own reporters get threatened for trying to do their jobs. But it is hard to imagine what this is going to do to the work environment at Fox News Channel for the Fox News Channel’s real reporters, and they do have them.”

Maddow surely has decent intentions in characterizing Fox News as a network that employs real reporters. However, there is scant evidence that it is true. Their main anchor, Bret Baier, presides over a daily roasting of President Obama. Their chief White House correspondent, Ed Henry, is a deeply biased right-winger with open hostility to the President. Their media analyst, Howard Kurtz, went out of his way to defend O’Reilly in an embarrassing display that evoked either fear or fawning or both.

But one thing in particular that Maddow said was way off the mark. It is not hard at all to imagine what this is going to do to the work environment at Fox News. It isn’t going to do a damn thing. As fake news guy Jon Stewart correctly pointed out: “No one’s watching [O’Reilly] for the actual truth.” And referencing O’Reilly’s “No Spin Zone” tag line Stewart noted that “Misrepresenting the zone he is in is kind of his hook.”

Fox News is a network born of deceit and devoted to the dissemination of propaganda. They couldn’t care less if they are discovered to be distorting reality because that is what they were created to do. Their founder and CEO, Roger Ailes, has no scruples when it comes to stuffing his roster with partisan clowns, as evidenced by the existence of Steve Doocy, Sean Hannity, Judge Jeanine Pirro, Donald Trump, Elizabeth Hasselbeck, Keith Ablow, and, of course, Bill O’Reilly.

When some of his mouthpieces began to fray at the edges of sanity, Ailes admitted to keeping them on the air long after he had determined that they were detrimental with justifications that were purely political. The reason Ailes gave for putting off Beck’s departure was that he “didn’t want to give MoveOn and Media Matters the satisfaction.” And with regard to why he re-signed Sarah Palin after first letting her contract expire, he said that he hired her back to “piss off the people that wanted her dead.” How does that comport with the production of “real news.”

As for O’Reilly, he is a known ratings winner who satisfies the lust for wingnut outrage that boils in the withering hearts of the Fox News audience. Ailes isn’t going to risk that without some intense pressure being applied, and maybe not even then. He knows that O’Reilly is a hate monger whose persona is dripping with animus and ego. A study done a few years back by Indiana University revealed the depth of O’Reilly’s bullying attitude:

“The IU researchers found that O’Reilly called a person or a group a derogatory name once every 6.8 seconds, on average, or nearly nine times every minute during the editorials that open his program each night.”

Consequently, Fox News is well aware of how O’Reilly behaves and they approve. The only thing that might impact their decision to stand by him is if advertisers bail out in droves, which is what happened to Glenn Beck. And then they still kept his show on for a period of time to avoid looking like they caved in. In O’Reilly’s case, they would more likely announce his retirement after some twenty years on the network. It would then be announced that he would produce occasional specials and continue to write books about killing people. Which is an especially appropriate legacy for a bully like him to pursue.

News Corpse Presents: The ALL NEW 2nd volume of
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

Media Matter and MoveOn have a petition calling for Fox News to Hold Bill O’Reilly Accountable. Go add your name to it and let the advertiser community know that America’s television viewers aren’t going to stand for this.

Donald Rumsfeld Resurfaces On Fox News To Remind Everyone Why We Stopped Listening To Him

The cable “news” network best known for serving up obvious lies; for its open hostility toward President Obama and other Democrats; and for its flagrant dumbing down of every issue, has reached out to the architect of the Iraq debacle for analysis and advice on how to move forward in the horrific environment that he was so instrumental in creating.

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Donald Rumsfeld was the Secretary of Defense during the Bush years who gave us “shock and awe,” and “long, hard slogs,” and “known unknowns.” His prosecution of the war on terror left the Middle East a broken region ripe for exploitation by militarized radicals. So obviously his opinion of where we go from here would be highly valued by the propagandists at Fox News who believe that if we call the terrorists “Islamic” they will fall apart (Even though that is exactly what they want us to call them).

Rumsfeld was invited to appear on Neil Cavuto’s program to discuss some of the recent developments in the war on terror, including reports of threats against domestic shopping malls. Cavuto characteristically treated Rumsfeld gently, providing opportunities for him to ramble on in his trademark fashion. Early in the interview Cavuto birthed this freakish inquiry:

“What do you think of that, that we’re making too big a deal out of ISIS, that they’re thugs, that they’re murderers, that they’re butchers, that they burn people alive, that they take their heads off, they kill Christians, but we’re assigning far greater importance to them than is warranted and responding far more differently than we should.”

Wow. That was some loaded question. Did Cavuto leave anything out? The terrorists also rape and pillage, and I’m pretty sure they don’t floss. Despite the massive girth of the question, Rumsfeld bit into it hungrily saying…

“Well, I was gonna start to say it’s nonsense but I would rephrase it to say it’s not credible. I mean the fact of the matter is, cutting off the heads of people is something that needs to be reported. And I would have to add that I think the United States government, over a period of a good number of years now, has been rather inept in dealing with this problem from an ideological sense.”

Setting aside the fact that nobody has suggested banning all reporting of terrorist activities, Rumsfeld’s response latched onto that straw-man argument just long enough to disparage the United States government during the “good number of years” that he hasn’t been screwing it up. He continued saying that…

“What we do is we don’t recognize that the terrorists have media committees. They sit down and figure what they can do that will call attention to them. And they are right. It does call attention to the ISIS and the Al Qaeda, and the terrorist activities. The fact that somebody goes in and blows up a shopping center or shopping mall is newsworthy, and blaming it on the fact that it’s reported is utter nonsense.”

Wait a minute. I thought he wasn’t going to call it nonsense. Maybe it’s just a known non unknown sense. But more to the point, Rumsfeld is arguing that the terrorists are adept at manipulating the media to achieve their goals. Whether it be recruiting, or intimidating their foes, or promoting their alleged successes, Rumsfeld is keenly aware that the media is being used as tool by savvy propagandists. Nevertheless, he immediately reverses his point by concluding that the media is in no way to blame for doing precisely what he just blamed the media for doing.

He was right the first time. The media does play right into the hands of the terrorists with relentless repetition of their PR. While responsible coverage of significant events is the duty of the press, endless redundancy only helps the bad guys to get their message out. It’s free advertising in the biggest and most valuable media market in the world. And Rumsfeld made those remarks on the only major television network to post the full propaganda video of the Jordanian pilot that ISIL burned alive.

After mangling his answer to the previous question, Rumsfeld was asked by Cavuto “What would you do differently that we’re not seeing now?” His response was no more coherent than the one he just concluded.

“I think we have to decide what we can do effectively and what we can’t do effectively. And we can’t nation-build. We haven’t solved the problem of the poverty in our own country. The idea that we can solve the poverty around the world, and until such time as we do, that we have to sit back and take terrorist attacks is silly. That’s just not the case.

“It seems to me you do what you do well, and what we do well is – obviously no one’s going to compete with us during this period with our Army, Navy, or Air Forces. They look for weaknesses, and the weakness that exists is real. We are vulnerable. As a modern country, as an open country, as a free people, we are vulnerable.”

And there you have it. The only thing that we do well is wage war. Consequently, Rumsfeld’s advice is to continue in an endless military campaign against stateless terrorists who are perfectly satisfied to martyr themselves in suicide missions. That’s what he says needs to be done that is different than what we’re not seeing now. How it’s different he doesn’t bother to say. And since the U.S. has led a coalition for the past six months that has conducted thousands of airstrikes, killing more than 6,000 terrorist fighters, the difference is hard to detect.

News Corpse Presents: The ALL NEW 2nd volume of
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

This interview with Rumsfeld is just another brick in the wall of stupid that Fox News is building. It doesn’t contribute to any realistic solution. It doesn’t even make sense from one sentence to the next. And contrary to their BS sloganeering about fairness and balance, there will be no rebuttal to Rumsfeld’s foolishness. But you can rely on Fox to continue promoting the ends of the terrorists with every new atrocity that they commit. Unfortunately, there will be new atrocities, and when there are, Fox News will edit them into a loop and run them for days on end. And the terrorists will send them thank you cards.

Fox News Surrenders: Domestic Recovery Forces Narrative Shift To Foreign Policy For 2016 Election

The Republican News Network (aka Fox News) is taking a hard turn away from domestic issues in advance of the 2016 election cycle. For the past several years Fox and the rest of the Right-Wing Media Circus has focused heavily on matters that hit close to home like the economy, unemployment, immigration, marriage equality, education, and relentlessly, healthcare – or more accurately, opposition to it.

Unfortunately for the GOP, every one of those issues has been trending favorably for the Obama administration and the Democratic Party. The economy has grown by historic rates. The stock market has hit record highs. The deficit has declined by two-thirds. Unemployment dropped from 10.1 to 5.7 percent and wages are beginning to rise. The majority of the public support the President’s positions on immigration. Marriage equality is being affirmed by courts across the country. Both academic and financial education reforms proposed by Obama are hugely popular. And ObamaCare reached new plateaus of success signing up more than 11 million new people this year.

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Also influencing the right is a Gallup poll released this week showing that terrorism has jumped in importance to the electorate. Fox News immediately began promoting this poll as evidence that Americans are convulsed with worry about being blown up in a cafe on Main Street. What they don’t mention is that terrorism in the poll shot up to a mere 8% and is still in fifth place behind four domestic issues. Also not mentioned is that another Gallup poll released the same day shows the President’s standing is on the rise. The poll shows him making significant gains with independents and even Republicans. And those gains are seen both personally and for his stance on issues.

So what is an obsessively hostile cable TV “news” network with a mission to promote conservative policies and Republican candidates to do? Of course, they have to pivot to foreign policy in a desperate bid to find a narrative that will advance their political goals. That is what’s happening now as this exchange from Fox News yesterday demonstrates:

Charles Krauthammer: This is going to be be one of those rare presidential runs in which foreign affairs is one of the dominant issues […] That is a very ripe field for the Republicans.
Ron Fournier: Charles is right. This is going to be a foreign policy election. I think that’s going to be really tough for Hillary given her last job.

Huh? Fournier didn’t elaborate on why Hillary Clinton’s last job as Secretary of State would make things harder for her if foreign policy were to take precedence. Running the State Department for four years would ordinarily be seen as a prime resume enhancement in an environment that prized international experience. Presumably the right is hankering for an opportunity to beat the Benghazi drum some more, but since they have failed to produce any evidence of wrongdoing after three years and dozens of investigations (including findings that exonerate Clinton and Obama by the GOP led House Intelligence Committee), it seems rather far-fetched that they can make an issue of it now. And when the election heats up Clinton will have a strong record of achievement about which to brag.

More to the point, the effort by Fox to divert attention away from the positive domestic news is bound to fail for three reasons. First, whatever plausible case they have to make against Obama and/or Clinton on foreign policy, they aren’t making it. Instead, they are wasting breath on such ludicrous trivialities as whether or not the word “Islamic” is appended to every mention of terrorism. Their mantra on this is that you have to “call it what it is” in order to win. They seem to believe that just changing the rhetoric all by itself would cause the bad guys to throw in the towel. That, of course, is absurd. The truth is that tarring all Muslims with an association to terrorism would only alienate the Islamic allies we need to prevail. The only parties who insist on this language are GOP/Fox News conservatives and the terrorists themselves. So why is Fox taking their side? That’s a question that Fox News will answer by shouting as loudly as possible, “Benghazi!”

The second reason that latching unto a foreign affairs campaign theme would fail is that, in addition to not making a negative case against Clinton, Republicans are also not making an affirmative case for themselves. Their fierce condemnations of Obama as being weak and incompetent (besides being somewhat unpatriotic by their own definition) imply that their alternative would be to recklessly leap back into a war footing around the world with fronts ranging from Iraq to Iran to Syria to Afghanistan to Ukraine, and even to Russia and North Korea. That would be a hard sell to the American people. What’s more, Republicans are already leaning on the same people that so profoundly wrecked the nation’s international relations as the would-be architects of the next GOP administration’s foreign policy.

Finally, after failing to make a foreign policy case against Clinton or for themselves, Fox and the GOP are forgetting the universal truth about presidential campaigns. As immortalized by James Carville, “It’s the economy, stupid.” No matter how much the right wants to avoid the domestic progress the nation has made in the years since George W. Bush and his cronies cratered the economy, that will always be the primary driver in voting for a national leader. And on that subject Republicans have nothing but failure to point to, while Democrats under Obama have an increasingly prosperous country and an agenda advocating on behalf of the middle-class. In addition, Clinton happens to be married to the last president to balance the budget while producing strong economic growth and job creation.

News Corpse Presents: The ALL NEW 2nd volume of
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

It’s no wonder that Republicans don’t want to run on domestic issues. And as their PR division, Fox News is valiantly striving to help them to change the subject. But no matter how hard they pray their wishes will not be realized. 2016 will be decided by an economic debate, just like every other presidential election. That fact, however, won’t deter the right from trying to elevate foreign policy because it’s all they have. And in a presidential election year, when turnout is higher, demographics favor Democrats, and the GOP has more at-risk seats than their foes, the outlook for Republicans is filled with the gloom that they have been trying to project on Democrats ever since the black guy moved into the White House.

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

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

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

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

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

On that basis, here is Attkisson’s list:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here We Go Again: The Media Needs To Stop Promoting Terrorist Propaganda

The execution of a Jordanian pilot by Islamic State terrorists has once again shown the world that they are a repulsive, inhumane band of murderers with no agenda other than inciting panic and fear. Unfortunately, it has also shown us that the media is an irresponsible purveyor of propaganda that unambiguously aids our terrorist enemies.

Fox News ISIS Flag

The first thing that people need to realize about these heinous executions is that the terrorists aim is to inflame emotions and draw western powers into a quagmire on their battlefield in the desert. 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, etc. It is a pathetic and dangerous submission to the will of the enemy.

Why would anyone want to give the terrorists exactly what they are hoping for? To be sure the method of the executions is gut wrenching and stirs a desire for a visceral response with a measure of brutality that equals that of the terrorists. But succumbing to that vengeful instinct clouds our minds and distorts reality. For instance, many of the those acting on pure instinct have already appeared on television asserting that unless we escalate our military involvement we are losing the war.

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That’s nonsense. What people are forgetting (or not bothering to learn) is that there have been a total of eight executions by the Islamic State in the past six months. During that same time the United States and its allies have conducted bombing campaigns that have killed more than 6,000 ISIL fighters, including more than half of their top commanders, according to the U.S. Ambassador in Baghdad, Stuart Jones. In what playbook does a 6,000 to 8 kill ratio signify a military loss?

Nevertheless, the media is hyping the death of a Jordanian that, while tragic, is in no way an incentive to escalate activities with more American soldiers deployed to the Middle East in combat roles. We are already beating the enemy by any standard and we just need to be persistent and make decisions based on reality rather than emotion. We need to steel ourselves from the enemies tactics which are devised to cause us to make faulty judgments that benefit them.

Fox News

In short we need to ignore the propaganda that the terrorists are engaging in. Likewise, we need to ignore the propaganda that the media is engaging in. When members of Congress like John McCain or Lindsey Graham tell us that we’re losing the war, we need to ignore them and continue on the path that is producing real successes. When pundits like Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity or Bill O’Reilly tell us that President Obama is a weak and vacillating leader, we need to ignore them and stay the course. And even though news outlets like Fox News are helping the terrorists by promoting their propaganda videos, we are not obligated to watch or approve of that journalistic treason.

As I wrote last September after the terrorists executed Steven Sotloff, an American-Israeli journalist…

“The only 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.”

That remains true today. It’s a shame that we have to undergo the trauma that is inflicted by horrific terrorist acts. But it doesn’t help that our media is advancing the goals of the terrorists. Hopefully they will eventually wise up and realize the harm they are doing by failing to put the whole of this battle into proper context. Seriously – 6,000 to 8.

[Update:] Fox News has posted the full video of the execution of the Jordanian pilot by ISIS. It is the only national TV network to do so. A terrorist expert consulted by the Guardian newspaper said that Fox News is “literally – literally – working for al-Qaida and Isis’ media arm … They might as well start sending them royalty checks.”

[Update II:] Since Fox News posted the ISIL propaganda, more conservative websites are joining in to help the terrorists promote their message of fear. So far Glenn Beck’s TheBlaze, Breitbart News, and Tucker Carlson’s Daily Caller are now on Team ISIL. They claim that showing the video is the only way that people will be able to grasp the true horror of the execution. That is obviously an idiotic argument, but if they believe it, then why don’t they also post the beheadings of the Americans that ISIL murdered?

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

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

Fox News Soundbite Factory

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fox News PolitiFact

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According to PolitiFact, the current results breakdown like this:

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

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

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

Then there was the report by Fox that a proposal by the Obama administration to close tax loopholes for the wealthy and cut billions of dollars of taxes for the middle-class was actually a tax increase. And Fox also reported repeatedly that the Keystone XL pipeline would create tens of thousands of jobs, when only 35 of them would be permanent. Megyn Kelly did a lengthy segment revealing how Colorado Democrats were plotting to engage in massive voter fraud, except that none of her reporting was true. And Fox’s George Will fear mongered about Ebola saying falsely that it could be transmitted by a cough. And we haven’t even touched on the lies about ObamaScare, ObamaPhones, ObamaCars, or any other fabrication to which Fox appends the “Obama” prefix.

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

News Corpse Presents: The ALL NEW 2nd volume of
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.