Congenital Liar James O’Keefe Makes False Charges Of Illegality Against Battleground Texas

James O’Keefe has just released the latest of his long-running series of intentionally deceitful videos. In this episode O’Keefe returns to one of his favorite themes: harassing civic-minded volunteers who commit their time to registering voters and honoring America’s tradition of democracy. If there is one thing that extremist conservatives like O’Keefe hate, it’s people participating in the electoral process or helping others to do so. Especially if they are minorities, the poor, and other disenfranchised citizens.

James O'Keefe

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The new video purports to have captured illegal activity engaged in by volunteers for Battleground Texas, a local organization that promotes voter participation. O’Keefe’s hidden camera records a volunteer named Jennifer Longoria describing a part of the process for engaging voters and encouraging them to turn out on election day. Longoria explains that Battleground Texas keeps contact information gathered from the voter registration forms they collect. It is this practice of saving names and phone numbers that O’Keefe alleges is illegal.

The only problem with O’Keefe’s allegation is that it is utterly false. What O’Keefe did was to clip a portion of the Texas election code that says “The registrar may not transcribe, copy, or otherwise record a telephone number furnished on a registration application.” What he either fails to understand, or is deliberately misrepresenting, is that this section of the law applies only to the Registrar of Voters and other county officials. It does not apply to the volunteers or organizations that distribute and collect voter registration forms. In fact, the Texas Secretary of State website addresses this matter directly in their “Frequently Asked Questions” for volunteers:

Q: May I photocopy a completed application before turning it in to the county voter registrar?

A: No. Section 13.004(c-1) of the Code requires the county voter registrar to ensure that certain information, such as the telephone number, on a registration application is redacted from photocopies of voter registration applications from her office. In our opinion, this means that a photocopy of an application must come directly from the county voter registrar’s office, so that he or she may ensure the required information has been blacked out or otherwise obscured. With that said, we believe that a volunteer deputy registrar may photocopy the receipt. You may also copy the relevant information from the application in writing just as you would be able to do if you went to the registrar’s office and pulled a copy of the original application.

So actual photocopies are not allowed, but manually recording the data is expressly permitted. And that’s all that Battleground Texas is doing. The purpose of the applicable code is to prohibit confidential voter information from being published or otherwise made public by people on the government payroll who could have motive and opportunity to abuse their power. But Battleground Texas is not a government agency, nor are they publishing any of the data. Also, the information defined as confidential is specified in the code and includes things like the social security number and driver’s license number, but not the phone number.

The fact that James O’Keefe is thoroughly shredding the most basic standards of ethical journalism should not surprise anyone. His previous escapades have resulted in his arrest and conviction in a Louisiana senator’s office, and a legal order to pay a $100,000 settlement to a former ACORN employee he defamed. He himself has broken voter registration laws in a failed attempt to defend suppressive voter ID legislation. And let’s not forget his sleazy plot to seduce a CNN reporter aboard his “Love Boat,” or harassment allegations by a former associate that he tried to drug and kidnap her. His videos have been criticized by a broad array of media analysts for editing that blatantly misrepresents reality. Even Glenn Beck condemned his deceptive tactics.

However, what is truly disturbing is that, after having established a reputation as a shameless scam artist, there are still media outlets that provide a platform for his lies. Almost as soon as O’Keefe posted the new video it was picked up by Fox News on their Fox Nation website. From there it was swept up into the conservative media vortex that includes National Review, Breitbart News, WorldNetDaily, NewsBusters, FreedomWorks, The Daily Caller, Townhall, Human Events, TeaPartyOrg, and conspiracy kingpin Alex Jones’ Infowars.

Despite sensationalistic headlines about “Busted Dems,” none of these so-called news enterprises bothered to actually look into the law and ascertain whether a violation had occurred. They have simply taken the word of a known purveyor of falsehoods. That’s because their role is to distort and confuse rather than to inform. And that’s why O’Keefe can always find an outlet through the wingnut-o-sphere to peddle his phony investigations that invariably attack disadvantaged Americans and are a coordinated part of the Republican war on voting. The state of Texas has one of the lowest rates of voter participation in the nation, and O’Keefe and his GOP allies want to keep it that way.

Fox Business Network Debunks Fox News/Koch Brothers ObamaScare Story

From the very first days of the Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare) Fox News and other right-wing media have work their butts off trying to frighten people away from it. Their ultimate goal is to sabotage the program by suppressing participation. But with more than three million enrollments, and millions more covered by Medicaid or parental plans, the Fox strategy appears to be failing miserably.

That, however, has not dampened their resolve to do damage to the program and the millions of Americans who are already benefiting from it. Recently an ad that was produced by the Koch brothers-financed Americans for Prosperity, featured a Tennessee woman who suffers from Lupus. In the ad Emilie Lamb claims that she was forced from a state-sponsored insurance plan (which conservatives usually oppose) that cost her $57.00 a month, to an ObamaCare plan that cost $373.00. On the surface that sounds pretty awful. But as usual, there is much going on just below the surface.

Fox News

Consumer Reports health care expert Nancy Metcalf, writing for the Fox Business Network, added some necessary context to this story. Her article titled “Don’t be fooled by another ‘Obamacare horror story,’” spells out why Lamb’s claim that her previous policy satisfied her needs may not have been entirely true. For instance, Lamb’s CoverTN plan had a cap of $25,000, but Metcalf notes that most Lupus patients spend far more than that each year for routine medication and doctors visits. If she has a flare up or requires treatment for more severe symptoms, Lamb’s medical expenses could easily exceed six figures. Metcalf writes that…

“Under her old plan, they would not have been covered. Under her new plan, they will be. I used HealthCare.gov’s window-shopping feature to identify what she purchased: a Platinum plan with a $1,500 out-of-pocket limit. There is no deductible, 25 percent coinsurance for pretty much all services, and, most critically, no upper limit on what the plan will pay out for medical care. So if she ever has a complication of her disease, or needs one of those expensive drugs, the most she’ll have to pay out of pocket in a year is $1,500. The insurance company will pick up the rest of the tab, no matter how costly.”

One of the incentives for implementing health insurance reform was the number of bankruptcies filed by working Americans whose insurance failed to cover them after they had the audacity to get sick. While Ms. Lamb is understandably disturbed by the higher premiums she is facing now, it is preferable to a financial (and health) disaster should her disease take a turn for the worse. In addition, the evidence actually suggests that Lamb’s costs will be lower under ObamaCare due the $1,500 annual out of pocket maximum, and the absence of any lifetime cap. Under her previous policy she would be responsible for much more over time.

The Koch brothers and Fox News have been relentlessly hyping this story as proof that ObamaCare has not served patients like Lamb. They have featured it on the air with reports that provide no opinion counter to that of the Fox angle. They have posted it on their lie-riddled community website, Fox Nation. They published an op-ed by Lamb in Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post. So it is somewhat curious that they permitted their hype to be debunked on their little-viewed Fox Business Network website.

This may be their way of buying a little insurance of their own. When the bottom falls out of their propaganda machine, they can claim that they were “fair and balanced” after all. Even though their blurb on the FBN blog can never match the magnitude of their attacks on ObamaCare throughout the rest of their media empire. And don’t expect to see Nancy Metcalf providing Fox News viewers with her analysis anytime soon. She’s not likely to be invited onto the O’Reilly Factor given the factual nature of her reporting.

To Fox, it’s best to keep people like Metcalf segregated to the FBN web ghetto so the Foxbots aren’t exposed to the sort of truthful information that contradicts conservative spin and rattles right-wing media.

New York Times Demolishes Benghazi Hoax – Fox News Freaks Out

After what was described as an “exhaustive investigation” the New York Times has published a report that thoroughly debunks right-wing accounts of attacks on the United States mission in Benghazi on September 11, 2012. The story concludes that there was no direct Al Qaeda involvement and that many of the participants in the attack were motivated by an anti-Islam film, an explanation that Republicans and conservative media had dismissed.

The months following the attack led to a relentless campaign by Fox News and others to promulgate their Benghazi Hoax theory of events, but they were never able to supply the evidence to support their wild accusations against President Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, UN Ambassador Susan Rice, and other administration targets of their politically inspired wrath.

Benghazi Hoax

Excerpts from the New York Times article: A Deadly Mix in Benghazi

Months of investigation by The New York Times, centered on extensive interviews with Libyans in Benghazi who had direct knowledge of the attack there and its context, turned up no evidence that Al Qaeda or other international terrorist groups had any role in the assault. The attack was led, instead, by fighters who had benefited directly from NATO’s extensive air power and logistics support during the uprising against Colonel Qaddafi. And contrary to claims by some members of Congress, it was fueled in large part by anger at an American-made video denigrating Islam.

The violence, though, also had spontaneous elements. Anger at the video motivated the initial attack. Dozens of people joined in, some of them provoked by the video and others responding to fast-spreading false rumors that guards inside the American compound had shot Libyan protesters. Looters and arsonists, without any sign of a plan, were the ones who ravaged the compound after the initial attack, according to more than a dozen Libyan witnesses as well as many American officials who have viewed the footage from security cameras.

[O]n Sept. 8, a popular Islamist preacher lit the fuse by screening a clip of the video on the ultraconservative Egyptian satellite channel El Nas. American diplomats in Cairo raised the alarm in Washington about a growing backlash, including calls for a protest outside their embassy.

There is no doubt that anger over the video motivated many attackers. A Libyan journalist working for The New York Times was blocked from entering by the sentries outside, and he learned of the film from the fighters who stopped him. Other Libyan witnesses, too, said they received lectures from the attackers about the evil of the film and the virtue of defending the prophet.

Republican arguments appear to conflate purely local extremist organizations like Ansar al-Shariah with Al Qaeda’s international terrorist network.

The leaders of Ansar al-Shariah…lauded the assault as a just response to the video.

Not surprisingly, Fox News reacted swiftly to the New York Times reporting to defend their vested self-interest in advancing some sort of conspiracy on the part of members of the Obama administration. First to take Fox’s fire was Hillary Clinton. On Fox News Sunday, host Chris Wallace asked GOP Rep. Mike Rogers a particularly loaded question whose premise was not supported by any evidence.

Wallace: Do you think there was a political motivation for this Times report? Some people have suggested that, well, this is trying to clear the deck for Hillary Clinton in 2016.
Rogers: (saying that he “finds the timing odd”) I don’t know but I find it interesting that there was this rollout of stories.

Wallace never identified who the people were who suggested that the Times was clearing the deck for Hillary. He simply used the old “some people” contrivance to disguise the fact that it was Wallace himself who making the ludicrous suggestion.

Fox’s Catherine Herridge also did a report about the Times story that dismissed much of its findings, but offered no substantive rebuttal to the facts as they were laid out by the Times. In addition, she brought along a uniquely preposterous angle that did little to advance the discourse:

“Fox News was able to review the findings of an independent data mining firm which assessed the social media traffic in Benghazi in the 24 hours leading up to the attack and the 24 hours after the attack and, significantly, the first reference to this anti-Islam video was in the day following. It was in a retweet of a Russia Today story. So once again, this does not comport with the idea that this was in response to the anti-Islam video.”

This is a demonstration of Fox’s desperation to belittle the Times’ story. Trying to tie references to Twitter mentions of the event with affirmations of its execution is absurd in the extreme. Especially when there were verifiable accounts of information about the film being broadcast on local Libyan television, and many witnesses testified of its impact as an inspiration for the violence.

Stalwart proponents of the Benghazi Hoax also appeared on TV this weekend to defend their rapidly dissolving positions. They included GOP super-hawk Peter King and the mastermind of a flurry of fake scandals, Darrell Issa, who said on Meet the Press that “We have seen no evidence that the video was widely seen in Benghazi, a very isolated area, or that it was a leading cause.” If Issa hasn’t seen any evidence, he obviously hasn’t been paying attention. Or more likely, he is deliberately diverting his attention to the dishonest horror stories he prefers to peddle.

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Fox News has behaved true to form in the wake of the revelations published by the Times. They circle their wagons and defend their phony and sensationalist version of what they laughably call “news.” They fail to address any of the specific assertions in the story and retreat to friendly interviews with conservative characters who will plod forward with their false narratives. The last thing Fox wants is for people to be exposed to actual journalism that presents information in a coherent and factual manner. That would destroy the whole Fox business model if it got out of hand.

Addendum: You didn’t think that Fox Nation was going to be left out of this hoax-mongering, did you? They jumped in with two stories about the New York Times article, and both were typically dripping with lies and partisan distortions, as they have been known to do (see abundant proof in the acclaimed ebook Fox Nation vs. Reality).

Fox Nation

Fox Nation vs. Reality: A Birther’s ObamaCare Conspiracy Pushed By Fox News

In my book, Fox Nation vs. Reality, I document more than 50 examples of outright, provable lies that appeared on the Fox News community website. Obviously, no one expects an enterprise that cares so little about truth to demonstrate much integrity. However, it is still jarring when a major news organization mainlines reporting from disreputable outlets like WorldNetDaily.

WND is America’s Birther Headquarters. It’s founder and editor, Joseph Farah, has been the most aggressive skeptic of President Obama’s national origin. Farah financed a billboard advertising campaign with the message “Where’s the Birth Certificate?” And Farah’s publishing arm put out the widely ridiculed book with the same title by crackpot conspiracist Jerome Corsi.

Fox Nation

Sitting atop the Fox Nation website yesterday was a feature article by Aaron Klein, the author of the WND published book of bullcrap, Impeachable Offenses. Klein’s headline declared that “Media Matters Funded ObamaCare Deceit.” Clicking through to the WND source revealed a rehashed jumble of articles that Klein had written years ago. The centerpiece of his so-called reporting was his unsupported assertion that Media Matters had bankrolled an imagined campaign to deceive the public about ObamaCare. However, the only thing the article succeeded in revealing was the fact that a progressive think tank, the Herndon Alliance, was the beneficiary of support from a Media Matters affiliated entity, along with a couple of hundred other progressive groups. There was no evidence presented of any Media Matters role as the financier of anything having to do with ObamaCare. Neither was there any evidence of any intent to deceive. But there was an abundance of wild accusations and fear mongering about Saul Alinsky and George Soros, two of the right-wing, tin-foil hat brigade’s favorite bogeymen.

Apparently WND and Fox News found it shocking that like-minded progressive organizations would rely on one another to advance their common interests. Conservatives never do that. Unless you count the highly coordinated activities of the Koch brothers, Americans for Prosperity, FreedomWorks, Club for Growth, the Heritage Foundation, the Heartland Institute, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the Mackinac Center, Tea Party Nation/Express/Patriots, the Franklin Center, the State Policy Network, the Family Research Council, the National Rifle Association, the Republican National Committee, [oh, I could go on] and of course Fox News.

There really is a “Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy,” and it is working feverishly to fabricate the existence of a vast left-wing conspiracy, while concealing its own nefarious activities. And Fox News, as a founding member of the VRWC, is doing its part to slander progressive groups by promoting the dishonest cretins and professional liars at WorldNetDaily who are obsessed with impeaching our gay, Kenyan, Muslim, socialist president.

Serial Liar, James O’Keefe, Releases Another Deceitfully Edited Video: ObamaCare Edition

Some people are just gluttons for punishment. Take James O’Keefe for instance. The petulant, wannabe ambush journalist has already been exposed as a purveyor of dishonest videos that are deceptively edited in order to slander his victims. He was caught trying to execute a perverse scheme to seduce a CNN reporter. He had to pay a $100,000 to settle a defamation suit brought by a former ACORN staffer. And he was convicted of criminal behavior in a stunt he tried to pull in Louisiana.

James O'KeefeSince then his projects have been few and even many of his former allies declined to promote them. But now he has a new video that purports to expose some malfeasance on the part of some ObamaCare “navigators” who are helping people to acquire health insurance. As I’ve noted before, O’Keefe’s inner sadist assures that his projects are almost always aimed at attacking people and programs that serve the less fortunate. That’s true in this case as well.

The ObamaCare association seems to have loosened up those who abandoned him in the past, including Bill O’Reilly of Fox News. However, his reputation for producing video fiction is fully intact. In the new video he sends in a shill to pretend to inquire about enrolling in a health care plan. In the process, the shill attempts to trick his unsuspecting victims into giving bad advice. However, we can’t know for sure whether they did that because the videos are so heavily edited that there is no way to discern the actual context. Also, the people O’Keefe’s shill spoke with weren’t certified navigators, but were in fact trainees. So the prospect of them making a few mistakes shouldn’t shock anyone.

In one case, though, it is apparent that the navigators did not do what O’Keefe accused them of doing. O’Keefe alleged that the navigators advised the shill to misrepresent his income. In reality, they simply told him to report on the ObamaCare website the same amounts he reported to the IRS. It’s his responsibility to file his income taxes honestly. But the conclusions drawn in the video conceal that. That’s just one example of how creative editing can distort the true picture of what occurred.

Given that Fox News is immersed in an obsessive campaign to cripple ObamaCare, they must have given the green light to O’Reilly to readmit O’Keefe into their good graces – sort of. O’Reilly devoted most of his opening segment to O’Keefe’s video, but without ever mentioning his name. That may have been wise considering the disrepute associated with O’Keefe and his band of dissemblers. O’Reilly only identified the video as the work of Project Veritas, which he helpfully explained to his viewers means “truth,” something with which O’Reilly and O’Keefe have limited experience.

Even Glenn Beck’s TheBlaze couldn’t post O’Keefe’s video without disclaiming that “It should be noted that the video is heavily edited and employs deceptive tactics in order to catch the navigators offering the shocking advice.” When Beck’s crew is disturbed by deceptive tactics, you know you’ve crossed a line that most charlatans never see in their whole lives.

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Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Community’s Assault On Truth

What’s worse, a United States senator, John Cornyn, Republican of Texas (where else?), also cited the O’Keefe video as evidence that ObamaCare needs to be stopped immediately. Cornyn said that “This behavior is unacceptable, and is yet another broken piece of a deeply flawed system. The Obama administration should stop this program immediately.” Obviously – if a trainee tells a dishonest, partisan shill something that isn’t quite accurate, in a video produced by a known liar and criminal, then an entire government program that was set up to help 48 million previously uninsured Americans get access to health care should be thrown out.

That’s the quality of the logic in use by Republican and Tea Party opponents of ObamaCare. And, as such, is more than ample justification for ignoring them completely. It also explains how the pathetically amateurish video fabrications of James O’Keefe get taken seriously by idiots in politics and the press.

[Update 11/14/2013] Another Fox News program is hyping the O’Keefe lies. Sean Hannity did a segment during which he also referred to Project Veritas as the video’s producer and never mentioned O’Keefe’s name. He also spewed other lies about the cost of the website, the navigators not getting background checks, and the scope of the people whose current plans will be terminated by insurance companies.

Fox News Publishes Phony ObamaCare Attacks From Koch Brothers Funded “News” Service

In their three year effort to prevent Americans from getting affordable health care, Fox News has partnered with numerous conservative propagandists in the media, partisans in politics, and professional lobbyists and think tanks. However, recently they have begun incorporating the most extreme right-wing opinions disguised as journalism and originating from a blatantly self-serving source.

Watchdog.org
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Watchdog.org is a right-wing, propaganda-spewing project that is funded by the Koch brothers through their Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity. It is an unabashedly partisan source of slanted opinions and attack pieces. And Fox is now utilizing it as an affiliated reporting service. In effect, the Koch brothers have co-opted Fox to get their Tea Party agenda disseminated to Fox’s national audience.

In just the past month, Watchdog.org has blasted out a flurry of fiercely critical articles about ObamaCare. In every case they contained significant distortions of the truth and omissions of fact. But in no case did they disclose that they are flunkies of Koch Industries.

There have been 27 articles published by Fox just this month with Watchdog.org bylines. Many of them were hit pieces on unions and environmental science, two issues that deeply interest the Koch brothers whose businesses have fought workers rights and have contributed to dirtying the air and water of every place they have a presence. But at least ten of them were dedicated to ObamaCare, which they have been vocal in opposing. For instance…

  • What’s wrong? It’s been a week, and ObamaCare website still not working
  • Plenty of Oregonians interested in ObamaCare, but none can enroll online
  • Hype over ObamaCare small business tax credit is misleading
  • Blue Cross hires temp workers to deal with ObamaCare glitches
  • ObamaCare effect? 9 companies exit Nebraska’s health insurance market
  • You know that one guy who successfully signed up for ObamaCare? He didn’t
  • Healthy young, key to Obamacare, aren’t buying it
  • Reports of ObamaCare fraud emerge in Tennessee
  • Some Nebraskans’ premiums to triple under ObamaCare
  • New ObamaCare advertisement features a keg stand

Koch/Fox NewsFox News has always been a megaphone for rightist doctrine. But now they have upped the ante with their embrace of the brazen biases of an activist corporation with vested interests in the stories they pretend to cover. The network that celebrated the repugnant Supreme Court ruling on Citizens United that transformed corporations into persons, now also regards corporations as journalists. And if, like the Koch brothers, you can afford to create your own fake wire service, you can get fake news networks like Fox to distribute your PR.

Is Fox News The Most Flaccid Propaganda Tool Ever?

Twelve days ago the Tea Party dominated Republican House caucus shut down the United States government in an attempt coerce the majority of the Congress into defunding, delaying, or otherwise crippling the Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare).

They were aided and abetted by their partners in political crime, Fox News. In fact, Fox News took a leadership role in disseminating disinformation aimed at either preventing ObamaCare from being implemented or poisoning public opinion to oppose it based on the lies that Fox manufactured.

Fox News
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The ferocity of the Fox campaign was dialed up to maximum volume with absurdly dishonest claims that tested the boundaries of hyperbole. They coordinated their attack plan to traverse the Fox empire including their business network, the Wall Street Journal, and the notorious Fib Factory, Fox Nation. They spoke of non-existent death panels, encroaching socialism, largest tax increases in history, comparisons to slavery, and endless references to tyranny, Hitler, and the total destruction of America.

So what did Fox gain from that virulent assault on a law that was passed by Congress, signed by the President, deemed constitutional by the Supreme Court, and affirmed by the reelection of Obama? They emboldened the most strident extremists on the right who pursued a suicidal mission to impose their unpopular will on the nation. And their ultimate reward is that ObamaCare is now regarded more favorably than it was before the government shutdown (or “slimdown” as Fox calls it):

“[W]hat is perhaps even more worrisome for the GOP is the ‘boomerang’ effect: As the party has used the shutdown and fiscal fight to campaign against the nation’s health-care law and for limited government, the poll shows those efforts have backfired.

“For one thing, the health-care law has become more popular since the shutdown began. Thirty-eight percent see the Affordable Care Act (or ‘Obamacare’) as a good idea, versus 43 percent who see it as a bad idea – up from 31 percent good idea, 44 percent bad idea last month.”

Ted CruzNot only that, but while America has been warming up to ObamaCare (which most are only now getting there first personal exposure to), their dislike for Republicans is growing exponentially. For that they can thank the Tea Party nutjobs like Ted Cruz and the tiny faction of Teabaggers in the House who have such a firm grip on John Boehner’s cojones:

“By a 22-point margin (53 percent to 31 percent), the public blames the Republican Party more for the shutdown than President Barack Obama – a wider margin of blame for the GOP than the party received during the poll during the last shutdown in 1995-96.

“Just 24 percent of respondents have a favorable opinion about the GOP, and only 21 percent have a favorable view of the Tea Party, which are both at all-time lows in the history of poll.”

While this epic cratering of support was unfolding, President Obama’s favorability actually went up two points in the last month.

The inescapable conclusion to be drawn from this is that, despite Fox’s inflated ego and boastful self-importance, it is really a pathetically lame distributor of rightist propaganda. They threw everything they had at Obama and his eponymous health care program and came out farther underwater than when they started. This result is similar to last year’s election when Fox targeted Obama as something just shy of the Anti-Christ, but he still won by a sizable margin. And, not to be overlooked, it was a campaign that focused heavily on ObamaCare. More recently, Fox’s efforts to stir up their fringy malcontents to get them to take to the streets ended in an embarrassing flop.

There are plenty of reasons to worry about the destructive influence of Fox News. It is a bad example for other news outlets who think that conservative extremism might be a viable business model. It provides a platform and encouragement for crackpots like Cruz, Michele Bachamnn, Louie Gohmert, Donald Trump, Ben Carson, etc., to cling to positions that are wildly out of touch with the American people. It muddies the debate over critical public affairs with misrepresentations and lies. But one thing we do not have to worry about is whether Fox is effective at persuading Americans to join their Blockhead Brigade. On that measure Fox has proved to be pitifully feeble despite their exhaustive and desperate intentions.

Journalistic Malpractice: A Forensic Analysis Of A Fox News Lie About ObamaCare

As the country is mired in an unnecessary financial crisis courtesy of the Republican Tea Party establishment, Fox News is continuing to do its part in disseminating false information and right-wing propaganda.

Fox News Jim Angle

Yesterday’s Special Report with Bret Baier featured reporting by Fox News Chief National Correspondent, Jim Angle, on the harried first day of access to the health insurance exchanges created by the Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare). Angle presented an error-ridden account of the new law’s benefits and grossly misrepresented the facts. The core conclusion that he built up to was embarrassingly inept, untrue, and biased.

Angle: Without subsidies, many will be paying more than they would now. Not only that, we’re now learning what the wide range of deductibles will be, in addition to widespread reports of large increases in premiums, especially for the young. Those buying even the least expensive plan under ObamaCare will have a large deductible to pay before getting any insurance coverage.

Let’s dissect Angle’s remarks in detail to see the depth of his dishonesty:

“Without subsidies, many will be paying more than they would now.” Of course they will. That’s why ObamaCare included the subsidies in the first place. It is absurd to report the cost of the unsubsidized premiums that few if any Americans will pay. It’s sort of like advertising the sticker price of a new $30,000 car when every dealer in the country is selling it for $23,000 due to manufacturer incentives.

“…in addition to widespread reports of large increases in premiums…” Angle never documents the alleged reports of premium increases, nor what he regards as “widespread.” In all likelihood, he is referring to his own false reporting that omits the subsidies.

“Those buying even the least expensive plan under ObamaCare will have a large deductible to pay before getting any insurance coverage.” No kidding! This is the most ignorant part of Angle’s report. The least expensive plans are always the ones with the highest deductibles. Angle is spinning this as a flaw in the system when, in fact, it’s precisely how the insurance actuaries devised it from the earliest days of insurance. It’s a trade off between cost and risk. The more risk you’re willing to assume, the less you have to pay. The more you pay, the less your exposure to risk. Do you think Angle doesn’t know this?

The blatantly biased misrepresentations in Angle’s report are certainly nothing new for Fox News. At the same time that they are broadcasting Angle’s mutilation of the truth, they are spinning the government shutdown as a “slimdown,” as if it were diet program that will make us all deliciously svelte. And this isn’t the first time that Angle has lied openly in his reporting either.

Angle did a story last month about a man and his family in Kentucky that he said would suffer a tripling of their insurance premium. But Angle left out a couple of pertinent facts: 1) That subsidies available under ObamaCare could reduce the premium to an amount lower than the family currently pays. And 2) That the man in the report is the vice-president of the Association of Mature American Citizens, a conservative alternative to the AARP and an adamant opponent of ObamaCare.

That second fact is a wholly unethical failure of journalistic standards of disclosure. Surely an executive working for an anti-ObamaCare organization is going to have a built-in prejudice and an incentive to negatively portray the law. His occupation is a salient fact that any reputable reporter would mention. Angle certainly knew the man’s identity and his professional affiliation, but he deceitfully withheld that information from the audience.

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All of this adds up to journalistic malpractice on an Olympian scale. No news enterprise with an ounce of credibility would permit this sort of obfuscation and deception. Which is, of course, why Fox News not only permits it, they encourage it. And it is why Fox News viewers are so often proven to be more ill-informed than even people who watch no news at all. This is not an accident. It is the mission of Fox News to create as many idiots as possible, who will vote against their own interests and enhance the power and wealth of the upper-crusty corporatists who exploit them.

Fox News Renames Government Shutdown A “Slimdown” – And Hurricane Katrina Was A Gentle Breeze

Yesterday Republicans forced the nation into shutting down hundreds of government services and putting nearly 800,000 Americans out of work. The impetus for this tantrum was the GOP’s tiny Tea Party faction’s obsession with crippling ObamaCare, a goal they cannot conceivably accomplish.

The effect of this shutdown will be devastating to many citizens, particularly those who are seeking home loans, attempting to pay taxes, traveling abroad, operating businesses in or around national parks, relying on food safety inspections, and victims of natural disasters and workplace discrimination. The shutdown is estimated to cost taxpayers $300 million per day.

Nevertheless, Fox News is editorializing their reporting with a distinctly unfair and unbalanced misrepresentation of the crisis. They have taken to calling the shutdown a “slimdown,” as if it were part of a beneficial dietary program, rather than an expensive, destructive, and painful disruption of the people’s government.

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Fox News Government Slimdown

This is like calling a hurricane a gentle breeze. And this is not merely the product of an off-hand op-ed, it is a policy that has spread across multiple stories. For instance:

  • Why the Government ‘Shutdown’ Is More Like a ‘Slimdown’
  • The government slimdown’s effect on Hollywood
  • Obama shortens Asia trip due to government slimdown
  • Government slimdown leaves travelers in a state of flux
  • D-Day cemetery among the victims of government slimdown
  • Government slimdown blocks some seeking NIH research treatment
  • What are next steps in resolving government slimdown?
  • Americans turn to social media to air feelings on slimdown
  • Obama just as responsible for government ‘slimdown’ as Republicans
  • House to try again to pass 3 emergency funding bills amid government slimdown
  • Lawmakers, World War II vets rise up against government slimdown at war memorial
  • ObamaCare takes center stage in gov’t slimdown
  • Heated rhetoric in blame game over government slimdown
  • Hume: WH eager to see people ‘feel’ the gov’t slimdown
  • Welcome to ObamaCare activation and government slimdown week
  • Rep. Rigell calls for clean bill to end gov’t slimdown
  • Congressional stalemate rings in government slimdown
  • Government slimdown will weaken ability to track disease, flu outbreaks
  • Slimdown Showdown: Are Dems, Obama seeking political coverage by making it hurt?

That’s twenty instances of this erroneous affectation in just one day that cut across the Fox empire including the news network, the business network, the web site, and the lie-riddled Fox Nation. This is a blatant attempt to deceitfully manipulate public opinion by inserting prejudicial language into what should be straight-forward reporting. Fox News is deploying the term they coined in stories where the actual content uses the correct term, shutdown. They even plaster their invented term, via headlines, over stories from other news sources (e.g. Associated Press) who never use the term themselves.

This is not really anything new for Fox News who have engaged in this propaganda tactic before. They call undocumented residents “illegals” even if they never broke any laws, including immigration laws for those who were brought into the country as children. Fox invented the term “homicide bomber” to use in place of the more accurate phrase “suicide bomber.” All terrorist bombings with fatalities involve homicide, but they were not all conducted by perpetrators who killed themselves. Fox adopted the phrase “government-run health care” to replace the “public option” after focus groups expressed a more positive response to the latter. In keeping with their opposition to reform, Fox chose to use the phrase that would generate the most unfavorable reaction. And Fox repeatedly made references to “job creators,” which they used to avoid talking about the ultra-rich, corporate exploiters of America’s workforce.

Clearly Fox has abandoned any pretense of objectivity with regard to the budget debate. They have ceased to apply ethical journalistic standards to their reporting, instead assuming an activist role on behalf of the Tea-publican extremists in congress. And their insensitive adoption of the artificially weakened “slimdown” rhetoric to describe something that is having such a harsh impact on the lives of citizens who are not responsible for this crisis, illustrates the depth of the callousness to which Fox will sink in order to advance an agenda that benefits the wealthy and corporations at the expense of ordinary Americans.

Fox News Carries Articles From Koch Bros-Funded “News” Service

An odd item appeared this morning on the Fox News web site attacking the progressive organization MoveOn.org. It was the sort of substanceless filler that generally appears on rabid anti-Obama fringe sites. Beneath a headline reading “MoveOn.org tries to sideline Tea Party over shutdown fears,” the article revealed the shocking news that MoveOn.org is a liberal outfit that is seeking donations. You don’t say?

In the few paragraphs posted, Fox included a defamatory reference to a passage in MoveOn’s email that said “If we play our cards right, 2013 could become known as the year the tea party relegated itself to the dustbin of history.” In an effort to manufacture a negative association, the article asserted that the phrase “dustbin of history” was “borrowed” from Leon Trotsky. In fact, the phrase and its variations had been in use long before Trotsky uttered it, and it has even been used by Republican candidate for sainthood, Ronald Reagan, who said in June of 1982 “The march of freedom and democracy will leave Marxism and Leninism on the ash heap of history.”

The reason that this article was loaded with such blatant conservative rhetoric quickly became apparent. The item was sourced to a web site called Watchdog.org that presents itself as sort of a wire service. However, Watchdog.org is actually a right-wing, propaganda-spewing project that is funded by the Koch brothers through their Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity. It is an unabashedly partisan source of slanted opinions and attack pieces. But now Fox is utilizing it as an affiliated reporting service. In effect, the Koch brothers have co-opted Fox to get their Tea Party agenda disseminated to Fox’s national audience in the guise of journalism.

Koch News
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As an example of the deceit employed by Watchdog.org, they castigated MoveOn for its early support from George Soros and for “putting a bulls-eye on the conservative Koch Brothers.” However, while defending the Koch brothers, nowhere in the article did the authors disclose that they actually work for the Koch brothers. That’s a pretty egregious omission. Furthermore, as a measure of their journalistic neutrality, the Watchdog reporter sought out quotes from four people for the article: the chair of the Tea Party Express, the chair and vice-chair of the Virginia Tea Party Patriots Federation, and the chair of Tea Party Fort Lauderdale. Fair and balanced, my ass.

A quick Google search on Fox News, and their related Fib Factory Fox Nation, turned up dozens of previous Watchdog-sourced articles that were published by Fox. Many of these articles are hit pieces on unions and environmental science, two issues that deeply interest the Koch brothers whose businesses have fought workers rights and have contributed to dirtying the air and water of every place they have a presence. In none of the articles did Fox provide disclosure of the Koch affiliation to the reporting.

It is clear that the infiltration by the Koch activists is complete. Fox News has long been associated with the conservative politics of the GOP, the Tea Party, and right-wing enterprises like Breitbart News, the Drudge Report, and even WorldNetDaily. But now they have turned a corner and embraced the brazen biases of an activist corporation with vested interests in the stories they pretend to cover. So now, in the warped universe of Fox News, corporations are not only people, they are also journalists. And if, like the Koch brothers, you can afford to create your own fake wire service, you can get fake news networks like Fox to distribute your PR.

Fox Nation vs. Reality: Fox News Recycles Three Year Old ObamaCare Lie

The professional prevaricators at Fox News really had to extend themselves to achieve their latest pinnacle of dishonesty. The lead story on their community web site, and Home of Flagrant Fallacies, Fox Nation, was another in their series of attacks on the Affordable Health Care Act (aka ObamaCare). The blazing headline read “Even Obama Buddy Warren Buffett Has Soured on ObamaCare: Scrap It and Start Over!”

Fox Nation

That would be a disconcerting development if it were true. But like so many things on Fox, it is not only untrue, it is an embarrassing fictionalization that reputable news enterprises avoid at all costs. Fox, it seems, seeks out this sort of malarkey.

Here’s the story. An obscure web site (Money Morning) that appears to thrive by hooking readers into dubious investment schemes, published an article that purported to be a recent interview with the Oracle of Omaha, Warren Buffett. The article, titled “Buffett: Scrap Obamacare and Start All Over,” presented quotes that were portrayed as his current, and negative, opinions about ObamaCare. For instance…

“We have a health system that, in terms of costs, is really out of control,” he added. “And if you take this line and you project what has been happening into the future, we will get less and less competitive. So we need something else.”

There are just two little problems: 1) The comments were actually made three years ago and 2) They were so far removed from context that Buffett’s spokesman disavowed them. The truth is that Buffett was commenting on a draft version of health care reform that was being debated in the senate in 2010. Contrary to the impression left by Money Morning that Buffett was criticizing ObamaCare in its current state as the law of the land, Buffet was merely offering his opinion of what he would prefer while the bill was still being crafted.

It is fair to say that Buffett had some constructive criticism at that stage of the bill’s development. However, when asked directly whether he would support the bill, he said that he would favor it over the other option of no bill at all. So Money Morning misrepresented the timing of the quotes, as well as the substance of their meaning. And to make matters worse, their blunder was picked up by numerous right-wing news outlets who were more than happy to hype what they thought was a falling out between Obama and Buffett.

Along with Fox Nation, the false story was published by the Wall Street Journal, the Weekly Standard, and the highly choleric NewsBusters. Since the publication, Money Morning edited their article to reflect that the content was three years old, but they did not acknowledge that their previous version was wrong (here is a link to the cached original text). Both the Weekly Standard and NewsBusters posted corrections. But neither of Rupert Murdoch’s properties, the Wall Street Journal and Fox Nation, have bothered to set the record straight.

The degree of dishonesty exhibited here was documented by PolitiFact, who did a thorough analysis. Their conclusion was that the misrepresentation of Buffett’s comments was a “Pants On Fire” lie. It is well worth reading their entire article. Included in their findings is the fact that Buffet expressed his support for ObamaCare just last year, and he praised the Supreme Court’s decision upholding it.

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It’s noteworthy that the Fox Nationalists posted their phoney story well after it was already known that it was wrong. And they have had plenty of time to discover the error and correct it, but have not done so. That’s because they don’t care whether their reporting is true or not. They only care if they can influence their gullible audience, even if that means misinforming them. And that is something that they do better than just about anybody else.

Pravda (Hearts) Tea Party: American Conservatism Embraced By Russian Propaganda Press

If this doesn’t cause Tea Party heads to explode, I don’t know what will.

[Actually, I do know what will: Anything President Obama says; or showing that the health care law is working; or suggesting that billionaires be tapped for more taxes instead of poor people; or saying anything bad about Sarah Palin. Actually, lots of things make Tea Party heads explode]

Today the Russian Communist Party’s internal organ, Pravda, published an article extolling the virtues of American conservatism and its natural harmony with the politburo mouthpiece. The article by Xavier Lerma was titled “Why Conservative Americans Admire Putin.” This is a rather astute observation considering how the GOP has so lovingly embraced the Russian president during the Syrian crisis. They have hailed him as a true leader and even proposed that Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize be given to Putin instead.

Fox News
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It has long been recognized that the authoritarian Russian right shares much in common with their comrades in the Tea Party. From subjugating women and opposing reproductive freedom, to denying rights to homosexuals and forbidding marriage equality, to clinging to radical nationalism; to replacing education with indoctrination and science denial; and most of all, they share a common hatred for the U.S. government. Now we can add religious fundamentalism and Obama Derangement Syndrome to the mix. Here is how the Pravda article opened:

“America’s president has torn his land into a thousand pieces. The propaganda media machine covers Obama’s trail of blood and shows the president in a good way without a word of dissent.”

That could have been copied almost verbatim from a Rush Limbaugh broadcast. But it gets even worse. After Pravda laments that “The modern Tea Party’s success was short lived by Obama’s illegal interference,” they pivot to a conspiracy theory of election theft that would make the late Andrew Breitbart proud. The article swallows whole the phony IRS scandal and offers it as evidence of Obama’s corruption, despite the utter lack of any evidence connecting him to it. Then the author asserts that “Americans watch Obama destroying their own country and the world [...and...] With no hero to save them they become frustrated and look to Putin,” whom they see…

“…kneeling at Christ’s Holy Sepulcher which Obama never does when visiting Jerusalem. They see him going to church when they know Obama favors Muslims who attack Christians and their churches. They see Putin establishing laws to protect the church and laws against homosexuality. This they admire and this brings them hope. Hope in their upside down world where there is a leader willing to follow Christ. They have no Reagan but they see Putin whom they wish was their president.”

There you have it. Obama is an anti-Christian, Muslim lover, while Putin is the Second Coming of Ronald Reagan. A devout, law and order Christian who can inspire the Teabagging masses. Putin is their 21st century savior who can restore America and the world. The article even includes emails that the author received from Americans wishing Putin could be the U.S. president. And to top it all off, it closes with an evangelical sermon lambasting the “lamestream” media and exalting Putin’s piety and the glory of Christ’s guidance to the “Truth.” [FYI: Pravda, in Russian, means truth].

“American conservatives hear only lies from their TV but what they see on the internet from Russia regarding Putin is true because Christ guides them to see the Truth. The Holy Spirit does not fail them and inspires them to see Russia. They know a tree by its fruit. Putin obviously respects the Christian Church but Obama and their American government does not.”

Apparently Glenn Beck has been moonlighting as a ghostwriter for Pravda. The lunacy of this article proves that the Russians are just as capable of composing dishonest blather as the world champions at Fox News and, especially, Fox Nation (see my ebook Fox Nation vs. Reality for a collection of documented falsehoods put out by Fox’s professional lie-mongers). But the ideological affinity expressed in the article reveals that, whatever distance separates Pravda from the American wingnut, the doctrine espoused is just their cup of tea.

Putin/Palin

Fox News Dementia: Media Is Not As Hard On Obama/Syria As They Were On Bush/Iraq

On Fox News this morning there was a segment debating the media coverage of the “Crisis in Syria” (video below). On any other network this would have been a legitimate subject for debate and a fascinating topic. But leave it to Fox News to broadcast a version of history that makes Snow White’s adventures with seven diminutive forest dwellers look like a PBS documentary.

Fox’s Martha MacCallum opened the segment with a declarative motion for which she provided no factual basis: “Critics are suggesting that the media is not nearly as hard on President Obama about the potential of going into Syria, as they were on President Bush and his war that he fought in Iraq.” The reliance on a ghostly assemblage of unnamed critics is a variant of the “some say” tactic of inventing a premise with which a lazy commentator can project a dishonest argument. But it was just the lead-in that conservative guest Monica Crowley required to say this:

“Most of the media were very skeptical about any kind of military intervention in Iraq. They raised a lot of very legitimate questions. They also pounded President Bush and his team relentlessly in the run-up, during the war and of course even still to this day over that war. [...] It was just the fact that it was President Bush prosecuting this war. When you look at the difference between that coverage and the coverage of President Obama…in this run-up to a possible action in Syria, it’s like night and day.”

Fox News
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Indeed, it is like night and day. But not in any way meant by Crowley. Prior to the Iraq war, the media was in virtual unanimity with respect to supporting Bush and his fraudulent escapade. Even the factions of the media that are most often regard as liberal enclaves were banging the drums of war.

Recall that it was the New York Times that employed Judith Miller (now with Fox News) who was instrumental in providing cover for the Bush administration’s pro-war agenda. She was a trusty vessel for the dissemination of propaganda from Bush’s war hawks. She was the reporter most responsible for validating false intelligence on Saddam Hussein’s weapons capabilities and ambitions.

If you watched MSNBC at the time, you might recall that the top rated program was hosted by talk show legend Phil Donahue. He was a prominent skeptic of the looming U.S. invasion of Iraq. Consequently, the management of MSNBC viewed him as a “difficult public face for NBC in a time of war.” His show was canceled in February of 2003, shortly before the invasion.

The media presentation of dissent was nearly non-existent. Despite the fact that millions of Americans took to the streets to protest the war, the media declined to cover the demonstrations. Contrast that with the way they slobbered over a few malcontents in a tiny and unpopular political sect known as the Tea Party, and a handful of their hollering rubes at town hall meetings ranting about their opposition to health care.

The characterization of the media as going soft on Obama with regard to Syria is also delusional in the extreme. As expected, Fox News has been harshly critical of Obama no matter what he does. Last week they hammered him for taking a unilateral stance and failing to consult Congress on a possible reprisal for Syria’s chemical weapons deployment. This week they are bashing him for wasting time with congressional consultations and weakening the presidency by seeking them. What’s more, Obama has come in for criticism by pundits on the left like Rachel Maddow and Thom Hartmann and even Jon Stewart.

The right-wing directive to refrain from criticizing a president during international hostilities is apparently only in effect when a Republican is in the White House. Critics of Bush were often called traitors when they expressed their opposition to his policies. But outraged Tea-publicans are now encouraged to disparage the Commander-in-Chief in the most vile terms. Today it is the President who is called a traitor by right-wing protesters who fancy themselves as patriots.

In light of these facts, it is incomprehensible how Crowley can take to the Fox News channel and offer a twisted version of history wherein Obama is getting a pass and Bush suffered outrageous slings and arrows. And what is even more disturbing is that so many Fox News viewers are too dimwitted to separate the Fox fallacy from reality.

Fairly Unbalanced: Fox News Politburo Purges Democrats At Senate Hearing On Syria

When President Obama announced that he would seek the opinion of Congress with regard to a military response to the use of chemical weapons in Syria, the hypocrisy of the right immediately rose to the surface of the debate. Many of the same people who had previously condemned the President for not seeking congressional approval, shifted to criticizing him for doing so.

Fox News
For more Fox [distortions of the] News read
Fox Nation vs. Reality.

However, nothing illustrates the transparent intention to oppose Obama regardless of what he does as the coverage of the Senate hearings on Syria that commenced today.

Fox News was generous enough to broadcast the opening statements of Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, as well as those of the committee chairman Robert Menendez and ranking GOP member Bob Corker. From there on, however, their coverage had a much more partisan hue.

At about 4:00 pm (ET), Fox cut away from the hearings for an interview with former congressman Ron Paul. Fox then methodically skipped questioning from Democratic senators as if they were mere interruptions. Then, when it was Tea Party darling Marco Rubio’s turn, Fox went back to the live broadcast. But their return was just for Rubio’s opening statement and initial question. They immediately cut away again when Sec. Kerry began his answer. Fox then skipped the next Democratic senator completely, but aired the accusatory inquiries of GOP Sen. Ron Johnson. Guess what happened when Johnson finished his question and the cameras turned to the witness table – live coverage stops. This pattern repeated itself again with Democratic Sen. Coons getting cut, followed by John McCain getting covered in full.

At one point during the coverage, while Fox was airing a series of right-wing analysts bashing Obama, Neil Cavuto promised that as soon as Rand Paul’s turn came around, he would return to the live hearing. It was an explicit admission that Fox had no intention of airing any other part of the hearing that might include Democrats, but would faithfully broadcast their pal Rand Paul. And since Cavuto’s program ended before Paul’s time came, the promise was repeated by Dana Perino in the next Fox program. Lo and behold, Fox refrained from airing anything else from the hearing until Paul, then left the hearing again when Democrat Tim Kaine began his question time.

This couldn’t have been a more blatant demonstration of bias. Democratic senators were virtually ignored. After Republican questions were aired, the answers by the Democratic representatives of the administration’s cabinet were likewise ignored. This was clearly an editorial decision, and it is further evidence that Fox cannot be taken seriously as a news network. They are an openly partisan propaganda outfit for the benefit of the Republican Party. Their mission is to advance a conservative agenda, and that means preventing their already ignorant audience from being exposed to opinions that differ from those of the right-wing commentariat.

Conservative Propaganda 101: Write Articles On 4th Grade Level

Fox Nation vs. Reality
Fox Nation vs. Reality
is available now at Amazon.

David Corn of Mother Jones Magazine has published another epic investigative report uncovering a super-secret right-wing cabal formed to shape public opinion via coordinated messaging and organized smear campaigns.

Groundswell is an amalgamation of conservative activists and politicos including Ginni (Mrs. Clarence) Thomas, John Bolton, Frank Gaffney, Allen West, and many more. They also count as members folks from the media including Fox News, Breitbart News and the Daily Caller. They use Google Group correspondence and regular meetups to brainstorm their schemes. Corn obtained some of the emails distributed through their network and what they reveal is at turns frightening and funny. His article is a must read, but here are a few excerpts:

A certain amount of secrecy cloaks Groundswell’s efforts. Though members have been encouraged to zap out tweets with a #GSW hashtag, a message circulated to members of its Google group noted that the role of certain advocates should be kept “off of the Google group for OPSEC [operational security] reasons.” This “will avoid any potential for bad press for someone if a communication item is leaked,” the message explained.

Apparently they were engaging in activities that they themselves considered to be potentially embarrassing if discovered. And apparently they were right on that score.

The participation of journalists in coordinating messaging with ideological advocates and political partisans raises another set of issues. Conservatives expressed outrage when news broke in 2009 about Journolist, a private email list where several hundred progressive-minded reporters, commentators, and academics exchanged ideas and sometimes bickered.

Interestingly, the allegations that JournoListers engaged in message coordination were never substantiated, but the Groundswellers emails prove they were doing exactly that. Also interesting is the fact that Fox News went ballistic when the JournoList was revealed, however, they have not had a single report about Groundswell.

From a secret Groundswell email: “Our country is in peril. This is a critical moment needing critical leadership. We want to protect the strategic collaboration occurring at Groundswell and build on it. Please be careful about bringing guests and clear them ahead of time. [...] What Groundswell is not is a room of note takers. The goal of Groundswell is to sync messages and develop action from reports and information exchanged.”

There’s your smoking gun with regard to their coordinated propaganda goals.

The Groundswellers feel that they too often lose the political narrative to their progressive rivals. One memo that circulated among members declared, “We must reclaim the language and put ‘a face’ on our messages; tell stories. Write articles on 4th grade level!”

Yeah, that’s their problem. They have been reaching over the heads of their constituents by communicating at 5th grade levels and above. What were they thinking? Or perhaps it’s the other way around. Maybe they were communicating at a 3rd grade level all along and this is a directive to bump it up a notch. Considering the rampant idiocy of some of what we hear from the right, that seems like the more likely scenario.

Groundswell has forged a particularly close relationship with Breitbart. Matthew Boyle, one of Breitbart’s more prominent reporters, has attended Groundswell meetings, used the group as a source for tips and a mechanism to promote his stories, and joined in its efforts to whip up coordinated bullet points to be deployed by conservative advocacy shops.

“…conservative advocacy shops…” like Breitbart, Fox News, Daily Caller, etc. Corn’s piece contains many more bits of prime right-wing posturing and paranoia. The discovery of Groundswell is not particularly earth-shattering in and of itself. It has been clear for years that the right was clandestinely harmonizing their attacks. But by putting out this formerly classified data, it affirms what we’ve known and adds some juicy details to the mix.

Zombie Journalism: Fox News Must Be Running Out Of Fake Scandals

Imagine how frustrating it must be for the folks at Fox News who have been struggling so furiously to tar President Obama with one atrocity or another, but are having no success due to their total lack of evidence. Fox, and their cohorts in the Republican Party, have dedicated themselves to inventing phony crimes, and attempting to pin them on the President, to the exclusion of every other activity. But whether it was “Fast and Furious,” the IRS, Benghazi, gun confiscation, or the global warming hoax, not a single allegation has had any effect on the President or the White House. It has been a total loss for Fox, having expended enormous energy and resources, but getting no return whatsoever. On the air, in print, online, including their Lie Factory Fox Nation – a total bust.

The visceral pain and disappointment of Fox has visibly manifested itself on the air with increasingly ludicrous rhetoric and even more far-fetched charges. But what can Fox do when all of their best efforts to smear Obama have fallen short of their goal? Well, they can dredge up some past bit of melodrama and present it as if it is breaking news:

Fox News

The zombie story that Fox is reincarnating here is one from October of 2009, after Anita Dunn, then the White House Communications Director, correctly noted that

“The reality of it is that Fox News often operates almost as either the research arm or the communications arm of the Republican Party. And it is not ideological… what I think is fair to say about Fox, and the way we view it, is that it is more of a wing of the Republican Party.”

This is not a follow-up story. There is nothing new added. It isn’t even a new posting. It is a link to an old, irrelevant article that is as out of place as a pet rock.

Why would Fox post this four year old item in their list of current news stories? Besides being ancient, it is unrelated to anything else that is going on in on today’s news cycle. It seems to be merely a wild swing at the President and an awkward reminder of Fox’s paranoia and persecution complex. But overall, it’s simply another example of the way Fox does business. They have no ethical rudder and are running a self-serving, partisan public relations agency for right-wing propaganda. Up next on Fox: Obama “palling around with terrorists.”

[Update 7/14/2003] Two days later, the breaking political stories on Fox News have changed several times with one exception: the zombie “War of Words” story remains in firmly planted on their home page.

ObamaCars: The Latest Loony Fox News Conspiracy Theory

What do you do when you are the national mouthpiece for vile propaganda against a political party and a president that you were created to destroy, but all of your efforts have collapsed into a pile of bullshit due to the complete lack of evidence or even common sense? Well, just ask Fox News who have seen their every attempt to manufacture scandal blow up in their lying faces.

From Benghazi to the IRS, Fox News has struck out in their efforts to hang a juicy controversy around President Obama’s neck. So their answer to the question above is to trot out a brand new conspiracy theory that they invented from scratch: ObamaCars.

Fox News

For more made-up Fox-aganda, get the acclaimed ebook:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Community’s Assault on Truth

On Fox & Friends, the curvy couch potatoes were joined by radio shrew Laura Ingraham, Bush’s former press secretary, Dana Perino, and Rupert Murdoch’s personal lawyer, Peter Johnson, Jr. (the man with three names that are all synonyms for penis). In the course of their conversation they introduced a budding scandalette that they clearly believe will rip the heart out of their beastly foe in the White House.

What the Foxies are alleging is that, in the words of Steve Doocy, “there’s a provision in the Immigration bill that could be used to give free cars, motorcycles, scooters, and other vehicles, to young people.” Oh my. That would troubling – if there were even a scintilla of truth to it which, of course, there is not. This laughably ridiculous claim seems to have originated at the Official Birthplace of Laughably Ridiculous Claims, Breitbart News, where they extrapolated a nonsensical analysis of an amendment attached to the bill to allocate funding for youth job programs. The language that Breitbart and Fox found so offensive simply described that the funds were to be used…

“…to provide summer employment opportunities for low-income youth, with direct linkages to academic and occupational learning, and may be used to provide supportive services, such as transportation or child care, that is necessary to enable the participation of such youth in the opportunities.”

“Supportive services,” as regards transportation, are nothing more ominous than bus fare. They are certainly not promises to purchase vehicles for kids looking for work. Yet that is precisely what the conspiracy theorists at Fox have alleged. This delusion was directly refuted by Sen. Bernie Sanders, the author of the amendment, who said that…

“…the program has the option of providing funding for bus fare or subway tickets or other means of transportation. It is only the wild imagination that we have come to expect from Fox TV that would come up with this preposterous idea that we are buying automobiles for young people.”

This Fox fantasy was also refuted by Tea-publican Sen. Marco Rubio and was given a “Pants-on-Fire” designation as a lie by PolitiFact.

Where does the dementia end with these people? It would be one thing if this were a fringe newsletter published by radicals in robes and hoods, pretending to defend liberty from their wilderness camp in Idaho. But is this Fox News, the most-watched cable news network, and their leading anchors and contributors. The next thing we can expect to hear from Fox is that Obama supporters were found to be using their ObamaPhones while driving their ObamaCars which led to their need for emergency ObamaCare. Don’t laugh. I’m sure they are working on this story right now.

FLASHBACK: Before Fox News Attacked The IRS, They Embraced It To Attack Media Matters

In researching the recent controversies over the IRS and its alleged targeting of conservative non-profits, I stumbled across an article I wrote two years ago that unveils yet another blatant hypocrisy from Fox News (as if more were necessary to make the point). The current programming on Fox is dedicated almost non-stop to hammering the Obama administration for the misbehavior of low-level IRS staff. The story has even supplanted their previous pet scandal, Benghazi. And despite making broad accusations of complicity by the President, they have failed to provide even a smidgen of evidence that he had any role in the way that non-profits were selected for review.

That simple fact, however, has not stopped Fox from launching a sustained campaign of outrage aimed at the IRS, which they now regard as a totalitarian agency bent on destroying America and freedom. But it was not always thus. Not too long ago, Fox News was happy to use the IRS as a cudgel against their own perceived enemies. They embarked on mission to wipe the watchdog group Media Matters off the face of the earth. It was a weeks-long effort that included dozens of broadcast segments explicitly recruiting their viewers to file falsified complaints challenging the tax-exempt status of Media Matters. In the process they brought in pundits, and lawyers, and even their in-house “Psycho Analyst” to paint a disparaging portrait of the organization and its founder.

Fox News - Media Matters

The irony of Fox using the IRS to harass a non-profit organization just because they disagree agree with it will surely be lost on everyone at Fox and everyone who watches it. Below is the article re-posted in full because it is still as relevant today as it was then. Actually more so, with the addition of Fox’s newly minted contempt for the IRS.


Media Matters Has Fox News Scared And Desperate

[July 11, 2011] In the untamed jungle that is cable news, there is a ferocious and predatory beast stalking the terrain. Anyone who has encountered Fox News in the wild can attest to the spine-chilling threat imposed by the pseudo-news network. And now Fox News has the scent of new game.

The Fox News pack is on the prowl for the media watchdog group, Media Matters, against whom they have recently initiated a sustained assault. In the past two weeks they have featured over 30 stories with the express purpose of challenging the group’s right to exist. Fox has assigned network stalwarts like Bill O’Reilly, Bret Baier, Charles Krauthammer, James Rosen, Ann Coulter, Dick Morris, and Bernie Goldberg, to the mission. This is an unprecedented, broadly distributed attack by a major media enterprise against a non-profit group they regard as an adversary.

This latest batch of complaints stem from comments made last March by Media Matters founder, David Brock. He was quoted in Politico as saying that the organization was shifting its focus toward Fox News to one of “guerrilla warfare and sabotage.” Giving Fox the benefit of doubt, one might conclude that it’s only fair that Fox defend itself from such an overt declaration of war. The only thing that might refute that perspective is – reality.

If this is war, it is one wherein Fox is the aggressor. Fox News initiated their attacks long ago with aggressive and false assertions that cast Media Matters as hacks, anti-American, violent, and communist. They alleged that George Soros was pulling their strings long before Soros ever made any contributions the group. Fox stalwarts like Bill O’Reilly and Glenn Beck engaged in rhetoric so hostile that it inspired actual physical attacks against Media Matters and their progressive allies. This video (courtesy of Media Matters) was posted two years ago and illustrates the hostility harbored across the Fox platform long before Brock’s recent comments:

The new and highly coordinated offensive by Fox asserts that Media Matters has violated the terms of their tax-exempt status by setting their sights on Fox. They quote from the IRS rules governing non-profits that state that…

“…501(c)(3) organizations are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office.”

On the basis of that criteria, Fox News argues that Media Matters is in violation and should have their tax-exempt status revoked. However, in order for that to be valid, Fox would have to admit that they are a political operation so that attacks on Fox News would qualify as opposition to political campaigns and/or candidates. Without that stipulation there is no violation on the part of Media Matters. So Fox is, in effect, conceding their role as a Republican mouthpiece. Shocking, I know.

Contine reading

The Talk Radio Congress: Mainstreaming The Madness Of Conspiracy Theories

Once upon a time, the most outlandish fantasies of fringe political fabulists were confined to a narrow spectrum on the AM radio dial. They concocted delusional narratives that ranged from murderous first ladies to galactic alliances with Martians. It was an entertaining world of fiction and a guilty pleasure for some, even as the true believers were convinced of the frightening fate that was unfolding.

Today, however, the boundaries between rational political discourse and raving madness have been erased. The extremist peddlers of nightmare scenarios who were once thought to be charmingly eccentric at 1:00am are now advising elected representatives of the people to initiate investigations and draft bills addressing these non-existent threats. Congress today hosts members who are no more reliable (or sane) than the wooly denizens of Alex Jones-land or the lie factory of Fox Nation. Here are just a few of the urban legends that are now circulating in the halls of state and federal legislative bodies courtesy of the whack job broadcasting set.

The UN Arms Treaty That Threatens US Sovereignty
ButtheadsThe United Nations recently passed an initiative to address the proliferation of “illegal” arms trading amongst terrorists and rogue nations. As expected, the right-wing Chicken Little Brigade immediately began protesting that this was another attempt to dilute national sovereignty and bring about a one-world government. Of course, there is nothing in the proposal that would infringe on the rights of any nation to set their own standards for gun ownership. The actual resolution explicitly states that countries will “exclusively” maintain the right within their borders to, “regulate internal transfers of arms and national ownership, including through national constitutional protections on private ownerships.“

This perfectly reasonable attempt to disarm criminals and tyrants was opposed initially by Alex Jones and similar fringe broadcasters. But eventually their outrage bubbled up to singe Republicans in congress who managed to prevent the treaty’s ratification. The GOP opposition was notable for the fact that it concurred with the only three UN nations that also opposed it: Syria, Iran, and North Korea.

Communists Have infiltrated The US Government
This may seem like a throwback to the 1950′s and the Red Scare promulgated by Sen. Joseph McCarthy and others. But make no mistake, this is all too current. Commie hunters in the fringe media are still accusing all liberals of having pinko sympathies. And they have an ally in former representative Allen West, who is now hosting his own web cast. West told a group of supporters that “I believe there’s about 78 to 81 members of the Democrat Party who are members of the Communist Party. It’s called the Congressional Progressive Caucus.” West lost his seat last November, but it is important to note that the leadership in the House never rebuked him or dissociated themselves or the GOP from his remarks.

Muslims Have Infiltrated The US Government
This is a corollary to the commie conspiracy updated to smear a more contemporary foe. Originally this allegation was espoused by the infamous Islamophobe Pamela Geller. She latched unto the fact that then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had a close aide with a Muslim-sounding name. Huma Abedin has worked for Clinton for more than a decade and is respected by all who know her. She was even defended by House Speaker John Boehner and Sen. John McCain. That didn’t stop a cabal of House members, led by Tea Party queen Michele Bachmann, to fire off a letter to the State Department demanding an investigation and alleging that Abedin had ties to the Muslim Brotherhood.

There was never any evidence provided to support these allegations. Nor is there any evidence accompanying the new accusations by Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert, who told WorldNetDaily that Obama deliberately “bungled” the investigation of the Boston marathon bombing because “this administration has so many Muslim Brotherhood members that have influence.”

Benghazi Is Obama’s Watergate
Fox Nation - BenghaziThe king of right-wing talk radio, Rush Limbaugh got the ball rolling with this one. He alleged on his program that Obama was deliberately blocking the investigation into the attack on the US facility in Libya. Limbaugh could not come up with an explanation for why Obama would want to stymie the inquiry, so the implication left hanging was that he had some connection to the attack that he wanted to cover up.

Numerous other media outlets jumped on this mini-bandwagon with Fox News assuming a prominent role. Every Fox program began banging the Benghazi drum, and integral to their publicity push was escalating the scandal to include congressional players to add Washington credibility (such as it is). Republicans like Lindsey Graham and John McCain were happy to comply.

The Most Important Story In History
Not one to be ignored, Glenn Beck joined the fray with what he considered to be the “most important story in history.” The plot involved a Saudi man who was briefly questioned following the Boston marathon bombing. It was quickly discovered that he was a victim, not a suspect, and he was released to recover from his injuries. Beck, however, would not let go of the story. He threatened the White House that if they were not forthcoming with the truth about this, he would reveal the evidence he had that would blow the roof off the White House.

Beck’s deadline came and went with no revelations of scandal. He merely repeated what he had previously alleged, which had already been debunked. Which makes it all the more curious that four members of congress are officially demanding answers from the Department of Homeland Security based on what they call “media reports,” but are really just Beck’s psychotic discharges.

The Government Is Stockpiling Ammunition To Kill Us All
Last year there was a flurry of panicky hand-wringing by notorious conspiracy mongers over reports that agencies of the federal government had purchased large caches of ammunition. In the minds of the nutcases on the right, that was evidence that the DHS is plotting a response to some impending disaster scenario wherein they will be forced to kill every person in America five times. That is precisely what Mark Levin, Sean Hannity’s replacement for Sarah Palin, is terrorizing his radio listeners with.

This phony horror story was summarily dismissed by the DHS with documentation and proof that nothing out of the ordinary was occurring. It was merely a purchase contract to lock in lower prices for ammunition used commonly by several law enforcement agencies for regular use and training. Nevertheless, congressional overreaction to the “news” has resulted in a General Accounting Office inquiry into the purchase request. That inquiry was spurred by GOP senator (and Levin listener) James Inhofe who has also drafted a bill to prohibit ammunition purchases in amounts larger than those of previous administrations. Presumably that’s to make sure that the black guy doesn’t get any ideas.

And Then There’s Agenda 21
Amongst the conspiracy theory elite there is only one supreme and all encompassing doctrine of apocalyptic disaster: Agenda 21. The furor over this initiative dates back to the John Birch Society. In reality it just a UN guide to sustainable environments that recommends some completely voluntary measures aimed at advancing smart growth and safer, more livable communities. It was adopted by 178 countries and signed for the U.S. by President George H.W. Bush. It was, however, never ratified by the senate.

Glenn Beck - Agenda 21Somehow this benign project was transformed in the minds of conservative mythmakers into a monstrously evil plot to steal the liberty of all mankind. Glenn Beck even wrote a book about it wherein he describes it as “centralized control over all of human life on planet earth.” But the panic doesn’t stop there. Multiple state resolutions banning its implementation with a foreboding tenor have been enacted. For example, Tennessee’s resolution condemned its “destructive and insidious nature” and began by saying…

“WHEREAS, the United Nations Agenda 21 is a comprehensive plan of extreme environmentalism, social engineering, and global political control that was initiated at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development…”

That’s fairly typical of the numerous legislative measures aimed at defending America from a tyrannical, global, one-world government, orchestrated by despotic environmentalists and the liberal media. And we might as well throw in George Soros because that’s who freshman senator Ted Cruz of Texas believes is responsible for the whole affair. Cruz has promised that he will “…continue leading the fight, to stop Agenda 21 and any other globalist plan that tries to subvert the U.S. Constitution and the liberties we all cherish as Americans.”

These delusional and thoroughly discredited inventions from the paranoia factories of Glenn Beck, Alex Jones, Rush Limbaugh, etc., were once the province of the radio backwoods and militia ham operators. And as frightening as these grim fairy tales are, what’s truly scary is that this conspiratorial fiction is now being embraced by elected officials in Washington and state houses across the country.

Benghazi-Gate: The Feverish Fixation Of Fox News On Finishing Off Obama

The compulsive, gnawing yearning is palpable. Fox News is so obsessed with terminating the presidency of Barack Obama that they are veritably bursting at the seams of their shrunken skulls. They are dripping with flop-sweat over the self-manufactured prospect of evicting from the White House the man they failed twice to defeat democratically.

Fox News

It is truly an embarrassing demonstration of puerile covetousness as Fox’s leading mouthpieces gush inane and irrelevant comparisons that only serve to advance their deepest desires for political payback. Having realized that the American people refused to go along with their electoral smear campaigns, Fox is now throwing a tantrum as a desperate tactic to get what they crave so furiously.

The daft predictions served up by Fox are not only ludicrous and unfounded, they are as far removed from the comparable historical associations they are trying to jam into the public mind as is imaginable. The tragedies that took place in Benghazi are not impeachable, and they are not remotely similar to the Watergate scandal that brought down Richard Nixon. Nevertheless, Fox has been pushing this theme, without success, since nearly the day after Benghazi erupted.

Fox Nation

As I wrote last September, after Fox had embarked on a massive campaign of propaganda and lies (something that Fox Nation lives for), there is nothing analogous about Benghazi and Watergate.

Ever since the mid-1970′s scandal that drove Richard Nixon from office, partisans have been attempting to slap a “gate” at the end of any controversy. But it should be remembered that Watergate was not simply some government gaffe. It was an intentionally criminal act that included breaking into Democratic headquarters, paying off accomplices for their silence, and lying to investigators from law enforcement and congress. All of that unlawfulness was in pursuit of personal political benefits to the Nixon White House and reelection effort.

What occurred in Libya was tragic, but it was certainly not the result of someone in the White House pursuing personal gain. Nor was there any hint of corruption or clandestine plots to sabotage a political foe. Nor were there any attempts to covertly mask unlawful activity. In other words, there is nothing in this story that remotely resembles Watergate.

Nothing has changed since then. There has been no new evidence. There have been no new revelations. Even the hearings being held today offer nothing censurable. The affair was exhaustively reviewed by an independent board led by Ambassador Thomas Pickering and Admiral Michael Mullen, career public servants who worked in the administrations of both Republicans and Democrats. And the myths proffered by right-wing pundits and politicians have been repeatedly debunked. Consequently, all of the hubbub produced by Fox and their congressional comrades is a conspicuous waste of time when the country has critical issues to resolve.

So all of this yammering about driving Obama from office is just the wishful thinking of whiny Republicans who couldn’t get what they wanted at the ballot box. The American people rejected them forthrightly, so now they are whimpering about it and demanding that their cries be heeded. They want an impeachment and, damn it, they will hold their breath until they turn red to get it.

Like so many other things in the GOP run House, their motives are purely political. They will hold the nation hostage to defend tax breaks for billionaires. They will harm the economy, even resulting in a downgrade of the nation’s credit rating, in order to make points with Teabaggers. They will filibuster executive appointments and judges and even bills they previously sponsored, if it will hurt the President. And now they are making irresponsible calls for impeachment that are not based on any credible facts.

This is the sort detachment from reality, and the American public, that has cost them two elections and lost them seats in both houses of congress. And it comes at a time when there are more urgent and pressing matters of importance to the American people. The Republican Party and their PR division at Fox News are betraying the people. It is interesting to note that no one would celebrate the downfall of Obama more than Al Qaeda. Obama is the man who terminated their leader. If it were possible to impeach Obama, which is highly unlikely, the GOP and Al Qaeda could save considerable expense by pooling their resources and throwing a joint party to commemorate the realization of their fondest shared dreams.