Worst.President.Ever: Trump Hypes Biased Poll That Still Shows Him At 50 Percent Unfavorable

From the day Donald Trump was inaugurated he has suffered through the lowest approval ratings of any president on record. And his repeated failures in office haven’t helped to dig him out of that hole. Consequently, he resorts to diversionary tactics to take attention away from his floundering administration. More often than not that includes lashing out at the media, bragging about his November victory, or accusing President Obama, or other Democrats, of imaginary felonies.

Donald Trump

On Monday morning Trump employed another of his favorite diversions: promoting partisan polls that he thinks make him look good. He re-tweeted the Drudge Report which posted a link to Rasmussen Reports, a brazenly right-wing polling firm. Rassmussen published the results of their latest poll saying:

“The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Monday shows that 50% of Likely U.S. Voters approve of President Trump’s job performance. Fifty percent (50%) disapprove.

“This is the first time the president’s overall approval rating has been back in the 50s in nearly a month.”

The fact that Trump gets excited about a poll where as many people dislike him as like him shows how desperate he is for any good news. But since this is a Rasmussen poll, that achievement isn’t even credible. The RealClearPolitics average of all Trump polls puts him at negative nine percent. Rasmussen’s tie is the best showing of the last seven polls which range from negative six to negative twelve percent. The highest approval he reaches in any of them is 43 percent.

Further examination shows that even Rasmussen was not especially kind to Trump in the recent past. Two weeks ago Rasmussen had Trump down by eight points. The week before that he was down by twelve. So it’s rather startling that Trump surged to a tie in such a short time. Well, it would be for any pollster other than Rasmussen.

For some background, CNN’s Chris Cillizza published an article enumerating the reasons to be skeptical of Rasmussen. Among them are the pollster’s questionable methods of selecting a representative sample of voters. Or their automated telephone polling that excludes the younger demographic of cell phone users. But in general, Cillizza faults Rasmussen for failing to disclose their methodology:

“In an industry in which transparency is the name of the game, Rasmussen just doesn’t show very much of how they do what they do. That’s not to say what they do is wrong; it’s only to say we have no way of knowing how closely they adhere to accepted polling standards.”

He’s being generous. Rasmussen’s results vary widely from every other poll. And they are notorious for posting results that favor Republicans. Many media organization won’t cite them because their methods don’t satisfy the recognized standards for statistical analysis.

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

On a tangential point, it’s a little unseemly for a president to be flattering himself with poll results. I can’t think of another time when that was done outside of a campaign. It’s really just a form of low-grade propaganda when it comes direct from the White House. And for his trouble, Trump is relying on a pollster with little credibility for numbers that aren’t particularly positive. But when you’ve set records for low performance, and most of the country opposes you and your policies, I guess you take whatever crumbs fall onto your plate. And in Trump’s case, you pretend they are Creme Brulee and brag about having the best recipe ever.

Fox News Links French Nazi Presidential Candidate Favorably With Trump

John Moody, Executive Vice President and Executive Editor for Fox News, is boldly defending France’s Marine Le Pen. She’s a French candidate for president who represents a political party that has openly identified with Germany’s Nazis. What’s more, Moody is favorably associating Le Pen with Donald Trump. He calls her “France’s Trump” and “the candidate closest to Trump in ideology.” It’s unclear why he regards this as positive linkage. But he not only applauds their similarities, he laments their common “mistreatment” by the press when they do or say offensive things.

Donald Trump Marine Le Pen

For example, Le Pen was recently taken to task for her painfully insensitive comments about France’s behavior during World War II. The nation was under German occupation, but its government, and many of its citizens, collaborated with their occupiers. Moody described it this way:

“Marine Le Pen, the presidential candidate of the National Front, touched an old but still open wound among Frenchmen this week, when she said her countrymen should stop feeling guilty about rounding up French Jews who were sent to their deaths during World War II, when France was under Nazi occupation.”

Well, that’s thoughtful of her. Le Pen doesn’t want the long suffering people of France to feel guilty. After all, it was their grandparents who shamefully capitulated to the Nazis and handed over innocent Jews to their murderers. And that was a long time ago, so let’s just forget about it already.

For the record, what Le Pen said – and what Moody thinks was just an off-hand remark – is that “generally speaking if there are people responsible, it’s those who were in power at the time. It’s not France.” That’s like saying that the United States wasn’t responsible for the internment of the Japanese. It was just those who were in power at the time.

What both Le Pen and Moody are missing is that no one is asking the French to feel guilty. However, they are expected to take responsibility for the atrocities committed at the time and to never forget what happened. That’s the only sure way to keep it from happening again. It has long been a goal of neo-Nazi groups to persuade people that the crimes of the past were either fake or not serious enough to memorialize. And that also appears to be the goal of Le Pen and Fox News.

Moody makes that very point later in his commentary. He starts by acknowledging that Le Pen’s “National Front” began with her father’s overtly anti-Semitic agenda of Holocaust denial, Moody buys into the lie that it’s not the same party today. He says that:

“The National Front’s founder, Jean-Marie Le Pen – Marine’s father – was an anti-Semite and a Holocaust denier. But since Marine took over leadership of the party, she has successfully softened its image, while still calling for stronger borders, fewer immigrants and a hard look at France’s participation in the European Union.”

See? Everything’s fine now. The rough edges of Nazism have been smoothed over by the daughter of the party’s bigoted founder. And even though the party’s agenda is unchanged, all should be forgiven and forgotten. Moody argues that a new generation of French patriots have a completely different point of view. Well, actually he argues that they have an ignorant point of view:

“But what they, and the French political establishment are forgetting is this. Not many Frenchmen living right now were born during World War II. And the youngest French voters – in their late teens and 20s – have no connection to the Holocaust except what they have read or been told.”

And there you have it. Since the young folks in France don’t know anything about World War II, none of it matters anymore. Why hold them accountable for maintaining a future of tolerance and peace when they don’t even know about their nation’s genocidal past? We certainly wouldn’t want to educate them. That might be make them sad. Or worse, produce a sense of commitment to avoiding the same mistakes of their forefathers.

Moody closed by continuing to trivialize the past and Le Pen’s characterization of it. He called Le Pen’s repulsive remarks about the Holocaust “inelegant,” and complained that they “stirred up the usual outrage.” And you wouldn’t want anyone outraged by a candidate soft-pedaling genocide. Then Moody sought to put the past in its place as merely historical details that have little significance to modern folks.

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

As Executive Vice President and Executive Editor for Fox News, Moody’s opinion can be said to represent the network. It is surely aligned with that of most of its right-wing hosts and commentators. And if there is one thing he got right it’s that Le Pen and Trump are ideological partners. Le Pen gushed at Trump’s election saying that it gave her “reason to rejoice.” We’ll see. The first round of the French presidential election is April 23.

Trump vs. ISIS? Wingnut Video On Fox News That Mocks Harvard Students Backfires Terribly

One of the favorite stunts that conservatives use to try to shame liberals is the “man on the street” interview. Generally they purposefully skew the presentation to reflect their preconceived prejudices. Any responses that fail to advance their point of view are left on the editing room floor. Then they release a video with six people who agree with them, but never tell viewers that there were sixteen others who disagreed but were cut out.

fox news trump

This week on Fox and Friends they featured a “reporter,” Cabot Phillips, from the ultra right-wing organization Campus Reform. He visited Harvard University in an effort to expose the alleged liberalism of the students and faculty. The question he asked was “Who is more dangerous to Americans, Donald Trump or ISIS?” Of course, he fully expected to find students who selected Trump, whom he would then try to make look foolish.

Surprise! He found just what he expected. Then, after showing the video (posted below) on Fox News, Phillips sought to explain what could possibly cause these students to have such radical and shocking opinions. He said that:

“It’s from President Obama, who they all look up to. Who for so many years said, “Well, ISIS is the J.V. team. They’re not this real threat. And also it’s from professors and the media who are again constantly saying “Look, Donald Trump is the real threat here,” and trying to shield their eyes from actual threats.”

That analysis was wholly constructed from his over-active imagination. Nowhere in the video did any student attribute their views to either Obama or their professors. And Phillips didn’t bother to interview any of the faculty to ascertain their views. What’s more, while Obama did once try to marginalize ISIS as a J.V. team, he also spent years outlining precisely the peril they pose. More importantly, he attacked them relentlessly, killing thousands of their operatives, including many of their leaders.

However, what was most conspicuous about the video was the fact that the students who said Trump was more dangerous had good reasons for thinking so. One of the students spelled it out saying that:

“Do I think ISIS is going to cause a threat to me living my everyday life? Not really. Do I think the rhetoric that Donald Trump is using and empowering these folks hidden in a corner for a long time with hateful views … do I think that’s more of a threat than ISIS? Yes.”

Indeed, Trump has done more for hate groups in America who espouse prejudice and violence than any President before him. It is not coincidental that the KKK and white supremacists uniformly endorsed Trump and worked to get him elected. Trump’s rhetoric during his campaign and presidency has encouraged America’s bigots and increased the number of hate crimes. African-Americans, gays, Muslims, Latinos, and Jews have all been victimized in greater numbers in the Era of Trump.

The harassment and assaults that Trump has inspired have a much more direct impact on the safety of Americans. That doesn’t diminish the horror of terrorist activity by ISIS. It’s just a fact. It is not, therefore, the least bit surprising that people consider Trump more to be dangerous with respect to their personal lives.

A study by the CATO Institute last year revealed the relative dangers of common occurrences. Death by foreign terrorists came in 34th out of forty-eight items. Activities more likely than terrorism to be fatal included walking, choking on food, and police encounters. You are 260 times more likely to be struck and killed by lightning than by terrorists. You’re 129,000 times more likely to die in a gun assault.

Not mentioned in this video were risks posed by Trump’s actual policies. The president’s erratic behavior makes him a poor choice to be in charge of the nuclear codes. And his anti-environment stance could result in millions of lives lost due to famine, drought, extreme weather events and war.

Taking a logical approach to the question, it’s clear that Trump is potentially far more dangerous to America and the world than ISIS. He commands a much bigger military with far greater resources. The video is a blatantly partisan sham by conservative activists. Campus Reform is a project of the uber-rightist Leadership Institute that receives much of their funding from the Koch brothers. Their alumni includes hacks like Mitch McConnell, James O’Keefe, Ralph Reed, Karl Rove, and even Vice-President Mike Pence. That’s a fraternal order that speaks volumes as to their political and ideological mission. And it’s why Fox News devotes segments to their lies on a regular basis.

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

It’s STILL Russia! But Fox News and Trump Are Trying to Deflect to Phony ‘Unmasking’ BS

New revelations tying Donald Trump to Russia continue to appear every day. Simultaneously, Trump’s defenders launch new efforts to divert attention to media decoys. Among the latest are allegations that President Obama’s National Security Advisor, Susan Rice, improperly “unmasked” Americans recorded in conversations with possible foreign agents. Never mind that she never leaked anything or that her actions were all legal and proper. The story was a convenient distraction for the Trump administration as it’s mired in ever-growing scandal.

Trump Putin

Joining the spin party, Fox News featured a story about a former Obama defense official that they tried to malign. Evelyn Farkas left her job at the Pentagon in 2015. But more recently she sought warn her former colleagues about the risks of the incoming administration of Donald Trump. Fox News tried to spin Farkas’ public comments as something nefarious with the headline “OBAMA CHEERLEAKER? Ex-WH official’s call for Trump dirt part of pattern.”

“Cheerleaker?” Aint that cute. Of course it has no meaning or honest depiction of reality. It’s a purposefully negative rhetorical invention meant to smear Farkas. Which is pretty much what the rest of the story does as well. Fox’s story began by saying that:

“[F]ormer defense official Evelyn Farkas had undertaken a media campaign to pressure her old colleagues in the Obama administration — even Barack Obama himself — to disclose what they knew.”

Hot button terms like “pressure” deliberately misrepresent what actually happened. Farkas merely sought to offer her opinion on a matter of some importance. And her advice was entirely reasonable and warranted. That didn’t stop Fox News from putting it into the most negative light. However the quotes in Fox’s own story portray Farkas as a patriot coming forward on behalf of her country. For instance:

“I was urging my former colleagues, and frankly speaking, the people on the Hill … ‘get as much information as you can, get as much intelligence as you can before President Obama leaves the administration,’ because I had a fear that, somehow, that information would disappear with the senior people who left,” she said. “That’s why you have the leaking, because people were worried,” she added.

“The information needs to be made public,” she wrote. “If the answers yield further evidence that the president-elect is indebted to the Russian government or individuals with Kremlin ties, the intelligence community and policy officials should also begin disclosing what they know about whether Trump’s associates have been in contact with Russian officials, and what they’ve been discussing.”

“We need President Obama to share with the public the information the FBI has to date on this issue, and we need President-elect Trump to explain the full extent of his ties with the Kremlin and influential Russians,” she wrote.

These are the comments that Fox News and the right-wing echo chamber are getting all hot and bothered about. But any sane observer would recognize them as calls for transparency and respecting American citizens enough to keep them informed. Why on Earth wouldn’t you want to protect potentially incriminating information from being destroyed? And why wouldn’t you want to know about any President’s connections to operatives of a hostile foreign country?

The only reason anyone would be worried about what Farkas said is if they were trying to hide wrongdoing. Fox News and Donald Trump have vested interests in shielding themselves from unsavory or unlawful activity. And they must be deeply concerned about what would come out if intelligence officials followed Farkas’ advice. Otherwise, they would welcome any disclosures as opportunities to clear their names.

Consequently, the word has gone out to the conservative media to hype stories like Farkas’ and Rice’s. And to do so deceptively in order to poison the public’s understanding and foment confusion. Then, while responsible journalists struggle to restore some sense of sanity, the Russian atrocities get swept aside. It’s tactic that we’ve seen used for months by the Trump camp.

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

Hopefully the press will stop being unwitting partners in this obfuscation and keep their eyes on the prize. There is nothing more important in American politics today than determining whether or not our president is a puppet of Vladimir Putin. Stay vigilant America, and don’t succumb to the practitioners of misdirection.

Pay-To-Play: Trump’s Tweets Promoting Fox News Are Worth A Fortune In Free Advertising

It’s time to pull the press credentials of Fox News.

Fox News Donald Trump

The congressional press galleries have specific standards for issuing press passes to Washington journalists. They’re intended to insure that correspondents granted the privilege of access to government officials represent legitimate and independent news organizations. More often than not, credentials have been distributed fairly and without regard to partisan affiliation. The standards say in part that applicants…

“…must not be engaged in any lobbying or paid advocacy, advertising, publicity or promotion work for any individual, political party, corporation, organization, or agency of the U.S. Government. [And…] must be editorially independent of any institution, foundation or interest group that lobbies the federal government, or that is not principally a general news organization.”

A recent example of a “news” enterprise that failed the test was Breitbart News. Their application was denied due to its failure demonstrate editorial independence from Donald Trump and his administration. It was an easy call considering that Trump’s chief strategist, Stephen Bannon, previously ran the alt-right web rag.

However, applying the same criteria, the credentials of Fox News should be revoked due to their demonstrated absence of independence. The network’s news anchors and opinion hosts shamelessly advance the interests of Trump and his agenda. Some (Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity) are close personal friends. What’s more, they devotedly defend him from criticism and fiercely attack his critics. Fox News fails to meet the standards cited above because it is plainly engaging in advocacy, advertising, publicity and promotion. It is not editorially independent. And even according to their own chief executive, it “is not principally a general news organization.”

Clearly Fox is in Trump’s corner and isn’t shy about showing their favoritism. And the reverse is just as true. Further evidence of the tightly wound dependency between Trump and Fox News is the favoritism shown by Trump toward Fox. Prior to his entry into politics he had a regular segment on Fox and Friends called “Mondays with Trump.” He has appeared on Fox more than any other network. Since the inauguration five of the six interviews he’s given to cable news networks were given to Fox News.

Even more emblematic of their mutual fondness is the presence of former Foxies in the White House ranks. So far there are five members of the Trump administration who were recruited from Fox News. K.T. McFarland, Ben Carson, Sebastian Gorka, Heather Nauert, and Richard Grennell. They form the core of Trump’s Ministry of Propaganda. It’s an unprecedented fusion of media and government.

Never let it be said that Trump doesn’t show his appreciation for all the help he’s received from Fox. He has expressed that appreciation in the form of promotional tweets encouraging his followers to watch Fox News. The Washington Post has collected dozens of examples of these 140 character commercial endorsements. And the value of these tweeted ads should not be underestimated. The Post noted that:

“[T]here’s a robust economy built on getting celebrities to tweet positive things about products. You see Kim Kardashian posting a photo of some new lipstick on Instagram and you can be pretty confident that the lipstick company paid some go-between to get her to do that.”

Indeed. Trump’s previous career as a television huckster hosting a reality TV game show prepared him for this role as a White House infomercial personality. Celebrity Apprentice was an hour long advertising vehicle for everything from Coca-Cola to Chevrolet, and of course Trump Hotels. In fact, there were often more product placements in Trump’s show than most other programs on television. It’s a corrupt practice he is continuing in the White House.

So Trump knows how much endorsements are worth. The Post estimated his tweets for Fox News to be worth more than $5 million in free advertising. Perhaps not as valuable as Kardashian’s tweets, but still significant. Below are some of the tweet-vertisements Trump has posted for his pals at Fox:

The relationship between Trump and Fox News is one that poisons both the media and the presidency. It cheapens both by turning them into commercial casters that exist to generate tabloid pablum for profit. A perfect example of how quickly this devolves into a shopping network for political elites is the deal Fox just signed with Harvey Levin. The TMZ star will host “Objectified,” a spinoff of Levin’s Fox News special wherein he toured Trump’s gold-plated penthouse. Coming this fall.

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

Trump and Fox News are merging to form a government sponsored propaganda machine that is deceptive at best and mind control at worst. It is the sort of perverse arrangement that is generally found in dictatorships and fascist regimes. If the organizations responsible for journalist credentials don’t take steps to apply their own standards, then they will be complicit in the degradation and delegitimization of the American press. And the first step would be to pull the press credentials of Fox News.

Desperate Trump Tweets Threat To Investigate Debunked Clinton/Russia Uranium Deal

The walls are losing in around Donald Trump. Allegations concerning his unsavory connections to Vladimir Putin and Russia continue to accumulate. His closest associates are being investigated by the FBI and other federal law enforcement agencies. The 2016 election was tainted by revelations of meetings between Trump’s campaign and Russian operatives. And the Justice Department has already certified that Russia interfered with the election in an effort to harm Hillary Clinton and Boost Trump. The FBI is currently investigating the Trump campaign’s complicity.

Donald Trump Vladimir Putin

In the heat of all that, Congress is under fire for failing to hold independent hearings on the mounting scandals involving Trump and Russia. GOP Rep. Devin Nunes, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, has himself been implicated in shady behavior. He reportedly met with a secret “source” at the White House prior to holding a press conference last week. At the presser Nunes released information intended to help the President evade further scrutiny. Then Nunes returned to the White House to brief Trump without ever sharing his information with the committee.

In the midst of this, Trump has now engaged in a pitifully obvious attempt at diversion. He posted the following tweets Monday evening:

Under the circumstances, asking the Intelligence Committee to investigate the Clinton’s is a transparent act of desperation. Especially since the Committee under Nunes’ control has zero credibility. In addition, the matters Trump cited have all been investigated by numerous legal and congressional entities. There was no wrongdoing found by the Clinton’s or President Obama. PolitiFact summed up the findings in a comprehensive analysis last year after a prior accusation by Trump. They rated Trump’s accusations “Mostly False” and said in part:

Russia’s nuclear energy agency, which also builds nuclear weapons, bought a controlling stake in Uranium One. The company has mines, mills and tracts of land in Wyoming, Utah and other U.S. states equal to about 20 percent of U.S. uranium production capacity.

So, to be clear, the 20 percent is capacity, not uranium that has been produced.

Given that Russia doesn’t have the licenses to export uranium outside the United States, it was likely more interested in Uranium One’s assets in Kazakhstan, the world’s largest uranium producer, our colleagues said. […]

The State Department did approve the Uranium One deal, but it didn’t act unilaterally. It was one of nine U.S. government agencies, plus independent federal and state nuclear regulators, that had to sign off on the deal.

And as FactCheck.org noted in a related fact check, while any of the nine agencies could have objected to the deal, only President Barack Obama had the power to veto it.

So there was nothing untoward about the deal in the first place, and Clinton didn’t have the power to approve or reject it anyway. Consequently, Trump’s only motivation could be to divert attention away from his potentially treasonous activities. It’s a pathetic scheme that is so clumsy it can’t possibly work. And that is the most damning proof of his desperation and fear. Stunts like this are only likely to exacerbate his situation.

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

So keep tweeting, Mr. President. Your outbursts merely serve to dig you in deeper. They certainly won’t have any effect on the law enforcement professionals examining your activities during and following the campaign. And as the evidence continues to expose your malfeasance you will lose even more support from your fellow Republicans in Congress. You know, the ones you just insulted because they didn’t buy into your phony healthcare scam.

BLACKOUT: This is How Fox News Intentionally Keeps Its Viewers Stupid

There have been innumerable examples of Fox News airing false reports in an effort to misinform their viewers. A recent example just within the past week alleged that President Obama recruited British spies to conduct surveillance on Donald Trump’s campaign. Fox’s senior judicial analyst, Andrew Napolitian, made the claim without any supporting evidence. The network’s news division later refuted the report and put Napolitano on an indefinite leave. But that was after the story had been disseminated worldwide, creating an international incident. Even Trump’s press secretary, Sean Spicer (Fibby Spice) cited the fake news during a White House press briefing.

Go Fox Yourself

However, another way of shaping an ignorant electorate is to refrain from covering important events. The choice of what not to cover is just as significant as what to cover. And on Tuesday Fox News demonstrated their determination to deny their audience information that is unarguably newsworthy.

The House Intelligence Committee’s hearings on Russia’s efforts to interfere with the 2016 presidential election were broadcast live by most news networks. Testimony by FBI Director James Comey revealed for the first time that the FBI was investigating Trump and his associates. The proceedings were unusually compelling for a congressional hearing. And the proof of that came when Fox News decided to cease coverage of the hearings to host a panel of right-wing talking heads instead.

Fox was the only network that interrupted the live broadcast. And by doing so they deprived their viewers of first hand knowledge of what was happening at the hearings. What’s worse is that they replaced the hearings with conservative pundits providing a blatantly biased analysis. It was a deliberate programming strategy designed to advance the messaging of an embattled White House.

Unfortunately for Fox News, it may not have worked this time. Ratings for the cable news networks show that when Fox cut away from the hearings they lost about 29 percent of their audience. That’s a massive shift by viewers who were obviously disappointed by Fox’s programming decision. What’s more, viewers were plainly following the hearings to other channels. The ratings for CNN and MSNBC both spiked after Fox cut away.

This tells us that the American people are acutely interested in this matter. They want to know more about the potentially treasonous activities of their president. By suppressing that information Fox succeeded only in alienating their audience and further eroding their credibility. Plus, they probably don’t want to send their viewers off to competing networks.

The Trump administration has brought newfound prosperity to liberal programming. The Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC has toppled Fox from its perch atop the ratings hill. She has won her time period for the past two weeks straight. Saturday Night Live, despite Trump’s insulting tweets (or because of them) has seen its best ratings in years. Stephen Colbert’s Late Show is now leading his late night talk show competition.

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

All of this suggests that Americans are hungry for honest reporting. They are tired of Fox’s propaganda and the phony “balance” sought by CNN and other conventional news outlets. They want the press to be skeptical when appropriate and aggressive when necessary. They know there’s something amiss in the Trump White House and they don’t want it papered over. And they are not going to sit still when a network like Fox decides that they don’t need to know what’s really going on. Fox News needs to adjust a new viewer mantra: We have remotes, and we’re prepared to use them.

Fox News ‘Security Moms’ Don’t Care About Russia And Trump; Fox News Poll Disagrees

On Monday the House Intelligence Committee held a hearing to investigate Donald Trump’s campaign and its connections to Russia. Witnesses included FBI Director James Comey and Adm. Mike Rogers, Director of the National Security Agency. The testimony was conclusive with regard to Russia’s efforts to interfere with the 2016 presidential election. And their motives were plainly to help Trump and hurt Hillary Clinton. Furthermore, Comey confirmed that he knew of no evidence that the Obama administration had wiretapped Trump’s phones. On that matter he was speaking for the Department of Justice as well. So Trump’s reckless tweets asserting that President Obama was guilty of that felony were exposed as lies.

Fox News

Many of the details of Russia’s election tampering were not provided due to the sensitive nature of the information. Comey had to be careful not to reveal classified data or compromise the conduct of an ongoing investigation. But there was no question that Trump’s campaign is the subject of an investigation and the consequences remain dire.

In light of that, Fox News sprung to action in order to protect Trump from any negative public relations fallout. His pals at Fox and Friends assembled a panel of what they called “Security Moms” (video below). In fact it was a group of pre-selected pro-Trump mouthpieces who would defend their hero under any circumstances. Co-host Ainsley Earhardt opened the segment saying:

“Even the mainstream media is admitting that there is probably no Russian connection to the Trump White House. So why can’t they stop talking about it? Is this really what American families want to know? Who better to ask than our panel of moms?”

First of all, Earhardt’s assertion that there is “no Russian connection to the Trump White House” was pulled straight out her assumptions file. There are numerous connections, as is documented by the research of Rep. Eric Salwell. His charts reveal a disturbing web of Trump/Russian connectivity. And secondly, Earhardt’s objection to the media’s focus on this issue belies her determination to squelch it.

Earhardt’s first question was a not so fair and balanced “Why is the mainstream media harping on this?” The answers from her panel of Trump Moms were typical rationalizations of his erratic behavior. They ran the gamut of wingnut allegations from “fake news” to delegitimizing the President. Earhardt also asked if any of the panel was concerned that Trump or his campaign colluded with Russia. They all immediately said “No.” By the end of the segment Earhardt and her support group all agreed that we should “move on” from the Russia story.

Clearly this was a deliberately biased group of women assembled to shield the President from criticism. It’s something Fox does on a regular basis. How else could they all be unconcerned about an American president colluding with a hostile foreign country? They expressed an interest in diverting to other issues such as immigration. But even in those comments they parroted the Trump agenda fomenting fear of “illegals” and terrorists.

Fox News displayed a graphic during the segment that read “NEWS YOU CAN’T USE. Do U.S. Families Want To Hear Russia Reports?” The conclusion expressed by the Trump Moms was a unanimous “No.” These Foxies must not be paying very close attention to Fox News. The network recently released a poll that specifically addressed these issues. The poll asked:

    Do you think there should be a Congressional investigation into:

  • Reported Russian hacking and attempts to influence the 2016 presidential election: YES 66% (including 41% of Republicans), NO 30%
  • Alleged coordination between the Trump campaign and the Russian government: YES 63% (including 32% of Republicans), NO 33%

So about two-thirds of voters think there should be investigations into Russia’s election tampering and Trump’s potential complicity in it. That’s according to Fox’s own poll. Yet Fox and Friends puts four women on the air who all take the completely opposite view. If that isn’t an attempt at manipulation and propaganda, then nothing is. It’s just further proof that Fox serves as the PR division of the Trump administration.

Finally, we know that Trump pays attention to Fox’s polls because this same Monday morning he tweeted:

Actually, the poll he was referencing was not from CNN, it was from Gallup. It shows him near the lowest point in his already record-breaking low presidency with only 39 percent approval. Also, CNN’s election polls were pretty close to the final result. They had Clinton leading Trump by about five points. She finished three points ahead. Trump’s observation that Fox’s poll was more favorable is true. However, it also had him in a decidedly negative position with 43 percent approving and 51 percent disapproving. Apparently in Trump’s world that’s good news. At least Fox got a new slogan that actually makes sense: News You Can’t Use.

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

FINALLY: CNN Calls Out Trump For ‘A Presidency Shaped By Fox News’

From the beginning of Donald Trump’s candidacy he was fawned over by adoring anchors and pundits on Fox News. They rushed to defend him at every turn and praised whatever lame-brained or hateful scheme he would propose. The network turned over so many hours of valuable airtime they should have been designated as campaign contributions. He had a long-running regular segment on Fox and Friends called “Mondays with Trump.” And Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity kept the door open for him to appear, or call in, at his convenience.

CNN Brian Stelter

Since becoming president, Trump has made a habit of harvesting topics from his obsessive viewing of Fox. There have been numerous instances of him tweeting about something that had aired shortly before on his favorite network. He clearly relies more on conspiracy theories from Fox than he does on the intelligence agencies that work for him. It’s a perverse and frightening state of affairs.

Sunday, on CNN’s Reliable Sources, host Brian Stelter delivered a commentary about this titled “Welcome to the Fox News Presidency.” It was a long overdue examination of the incestuous relationship between Trump and Fox. Stelter began by noting that:

“Five of his seven sit-down TV interviews since taking office have been with Fox News. Trump watches Fox. He tweets about Fox. He uses Fox graphics to advance his agenda. He’s hired Fox talking heads. He promotes Fox as fair while denigrating its rivals as fake. All of this amounts to a Fox News presidency. What I mean by that is a presidency shaped by Fox News in all sorts of ways, big and small.”

Indeed. Trump has exhibited an abject fear of taking questions from any news organization other than his pals at Fox. His assaults on the free press are frequent and biting (as well as childish and false). But his compliments for Fox are effusive and unrestrained. Meanwhile, anyone critical of Trump often finds themselves locked out. Just ask Megyn Kelly and George Will. Independent thought is not a value favored by Fox executives. Perhaps Shepard Smith should watch his back.

In addition to the Trumpification of Fox News, there has been a simultaneous Foxification of the Trump administration. Former Foxies on the White House payroll include K.T. McFarland, Ben Carson, Sebastion Gorka, Heather Nauert, and Jonathan Wachtel. Fox’s Monica Crowley was also hired by Trump, but she was forced to resign after the rampant plagiarism in her book was revealed. This is an unprecedented migration of media hacks to political flacks.

Stelter’s commentary is an encouraging, albeit late, beginning for the media honestly characterizing the formation of Trump’s Ministry of Propaganda. More of this reporting will be necessary as Trump continues to steamroll the First Amendment and blur the lines between media and politics.

Trump recently told Fox’s Tucker Carlson that “When I have close to 100 million people watching me on [social media…] I have my own form of media.” Someone should tell him that another term for a president with his “own form of media” is “state-run media.” The press is not supposed to be a tool for the president’s communications. That’s how it’s done in dictatorships, but not in America. Maybe Trump has been consulting too much with his BFF, Vladimir Putin.

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

Fox News Is Becoming The Propaganda Ministry Of The Trump Administration

The relationship between Donald Trump and Fox News goes back years. Long before he was running for president he had a regular segment on Fox and Friends called “Mondays with Trump.” It served as the launching pad for his eventual campaign and a platform from which he could attack President Obama. In addition to that free political infomercial time, Trump was close friends with Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, and Roger Ailes.

Donald Trump Fox News

This parasitic partnership served both the ego of Trump and the greed of Fox. Consequently, it’s not especially surprising that it would continue into his presidency. However no one could have predicted the depths it would reach. From the outset of the nascent Trump administration, he has used the right-wing network as a virtual farm team. The only other comparably rich pool of potential White House recruits was Goldman Sachs. This week two new Foxies became the beneficiaries of Trump’s job creation program.

Heather Nauert was most recently a co-host and news presenter on Fox and Friends. Now she has been tapped as spokeswoman for the State Department. This is her first government job.

Following her to Trumpville is Fox contributor Richard Grennell. He served as Director of Communications for the U.S. representative to the United Nations from 2001 to 2008 before signing on at Fox. That means he was the key spokesman throughout the Iraq war debacle. Now Trump is nominating him to be the ambassador to NATO. What’s peculiar about this is that Trump has repeatedly criticized the U.S. invasion of Iraq that it was Grennell’s job to defend. And now Trump wants to put him at NATO, an organization Trump said was outdated.

These two Foxugees are joining three former colleagues already on Team Trump. K.T. McFarland, Ben Carson, and Sebastian Gorka. There would have been four but Monica Crowley withdrew from the National Security Council after being exposed as a plagiarist. She’s back at Fox now. Appearing on Hannity Tuesday night she whined that she had been the victim of “a straight up political hit job.” She also said that her publisher backed her up but, in fact, they halted all sales of her book.

Still more Fox personnel have been considered for administration roles. Trump appears to be building a de facto Ministry of Propaganda out of the White House. All of the elements are falling into place. He’s assembled a cast of characters that has experience in developing fiction and defending the indefensible. Now on the inside they can be counted on to continue showering him with praise and deflecting criticism.

On the other side of this partnership, Fox News is well positioned to take advantage of their unique circumstance. They can expect to be excluded from Trump’s tirades against “fake news.” More importantly, the network’s corporate parent can count on Trump to shepherd through regulations that benefit the company. Fox would love to have the FCC relax TV station ownership caps so they can monopolize markets by buying up more stations. Also high among the priorities of Fox’s CEO Rupert Murdoch, is scuttling the merger of competitors AT&T and TimeWarner. That’s actually a good idea, but not for the selfish reasons Murdoch harbors.

Finally, how can Fox News fairly cover an administration that’s lousy with its own former employees? This presents a conflict that is unprecedented. Those involved are closely associated with one another, and they likely expect to return to Fox after their government service. So neither will want to antagonize the other for fear of hampering future opportunities.

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

Trump’s promise to “drain the swamp” is being kept by draining it right into the White House. The stench of corruption stemming from his unsavory connections to Russia now has a media machine to mask the odor. It’s the sort of thing that one observes in the regimes of dictators. There has never been anything similar in the United States. It’s up to what’s left of the independent press to make sure it doesn’t take hold. So we may be in big trouble.