Donald Trump Is Now Officially The Candidate Of Fox News

Rupert Murdoch, the chairman and CEO of the Fox News parent corporation, is reported to have made his decision to support the presumptuous nominee of the Republican Party, Donald Trump. At first glance this news may seem unremarkable for the avowedly right-wing cable net, but there is a history of discomfort with Trump on the part of Murdoch that he must have overcome either by greed or force.

Donald Trump Rupert Murdoch

Gabriel Sherman of New York Magazine has been covering the inside stories on Fox News for several years. He has reliable sources and published the definitive, unauthorized biography of the network’s CEO Roger Ailes: The Loudest Voice in the Room. His latest scoop is one that casts a disturbing glow on the allegedly “fair and balanced” cable news network:

“According to a half dozen sources familiar with Murdoch’s thinking, the media mogul has signaled he plans to fully back Trump in the general election against Hillary Clinton.”

Prior to this revelation, Murdoch was not particularly enthusiastic about his billionaire peer. He has tweeted that regarding the characterization of Mexican immigrants as criminals, Trump was wrong. He was critical of Trump’s demeanor saying that “Trump finally loses it, in 95 minute rant.” And in a moment of unexpected clarity he asked “When is Donald Trump going to stop embarrassing his friends, let alone the whole country?”

So the question now is what would make Murdoch set aside those concerns to support a notoriously racist, misogynistic, loose cannon with tyrannical tendencies for president of the United States? It’s a question that Sherman addressed in his column suggesting that the shift may be due to financial considerations. Sherman notes that:

“It’s clear Trump is good for business. According to one Fox News producer, the channel’s ratings dip whenever an anti-Trump segment airs.”

There is no doubt that Murdoch is an aggressive businessman who appreciates any opportunity to make a profit. He has built his media empire around a model of tabloid journalism that places tawdry melodrama above factual reporting. And Donald Trump’s reality TV persona has been a boon to all of the networks covering him for the past year. Les Moonves, the CEO of CBS, put it bluntly saying that Trump “may not be good for America, but it’s damn good for CBS.”

However, there may be more to this than sheer greed or political compatibility. In a previous column, Sherman revealed that Trump had dealings with a former Fox News executive who left under suspicious circumstances. The result was that Trump may have acquired information that would be damaging to Fox News and/or its principals. Sherman concluded that “If Ailes ever truly went to war against Trump, Trump would have the arsenal to launch a retaliatory strike.” That sounds very much like something Trump would do.

This could also explain why Fox News was so generous with Trump, giving him more airtime than any other candidate, while simultaneously allowing him to get away with his brutal treatment of Fox News. As News Corpse reported at the time:

“Ordinarily, any Republican candidate would be conscious of the sway that Fox holds over the party and the fate of anyone hoping to rise up in it. But Trump, with an apparently reckless lack of concern, has spent much of the last nine months mercilessly battering the network and its staff. He said of Megyn Kelly that she ‘is the worst’ and has a ‘terrible show.’ He called Karl Rove a ‘total fool’ and ‘a biased dope.’ He said that George Will is a ‘broken down political pundit’ and ‘boring.’ Chris Stirewalt was deemed ‘one of the dumbest political pundits on television.’ Trump laughed off Charles Krauthammer as ‘a totally overrated clown,’ ‘a loser,’ and ‘a dummy.’

Wrapping up the whole network for his disapproval, he tweeted that he was ‘having a really hard time watching Fox News.’ Then he called on his followers to boycott the network. He even went after one of the major shareholders of Fox’s parent corporation.”

Whatever the reason for Murdoch’s newfound infatuation for Trump, it is a troubling development for how the election will be reported. With the CEO of Fox’s parent corporation taking sides, it makes it inevitable that his editors, reporters, and presenters will be influenced and adjust their work accordingly.

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

Of course, Fox News has always been the mouthpiece for the Republican political agenda, so there may not be an apparent difference. But even the facade of neutrality is destroyed when powerful figures within a news organization set the tone for the enterprise. And it makes a mockery of events like today’s announcement that Fox News is seeking to host a Democratic debate before the California primary. Hopefully the party and the candidates will decline that invitation that is only meant to stir more controversy and damage the party’s prospect’s in November. With Murdoch’s capitulation to Donald Trump there is no way to pretend that the network is anything but hostile to whomever the Democrats nominate.

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Campaign Ally Says Donald Trump Should “Turn Off” CNN’s FCC License (Which They Can’t Do)

Advancing the already stridently fascist policy platform of Donald Trump’s candidacy, one of his closest friends and political allies is now recommending that Trump put his boot down on the free press should he become president.

Roger Stone Clintons' War On Women

Notorious dirty trickster, Roger Stone, has made a name for himself pushing ludicrous conspiracy theories and offensive smear campaigns. He is a veteran Clinton-hater who once started a group he called “Citizens United Not Timid,” or C.U.N.T. On the basis of that he later became a Fox News Contributor. (Media Matters has compiled a useful guide to his antics).

Yesterday, in an interview with Brietbart News, Stone floated more of his trademark trash in the form of advice for his buddy Donald Trump. In the midst of a tirade against CNN, which he said “is not a news organization, but an advocacy group,” he complained that at CNN “they turn you off” if you try to talk about the women in Bill Clinton’s past. But he has a solution to that problem:

“Frankly, when Donald Trump is president he should turn off their FCC license. They’re not a news organization. They’re about censorship.”

There is so much wrong with that statement that it’s hard to know where to begin. Let’s start with the fact that he could have been talking about Fox News and it would have been more accurate. But the larger issue is that advocating that the government take a roll in deciding which news enterprises should be permitted to operate is not only a violation of the Constitution, but an overtly oppressive tactic generally favored by tyrants. On that measure, it’s easy to see why Trump might be on board.

Trump has previously espoused similar nonsense. In February he threatened the New York Times, and other media outlets he assumes are biased against him, with lawsuits and the prospect of “open[ing] up our libel laws so when they write purposely negative and horrible and false articles, we can sue them and win lots of money.” And notwithstanding the fact that he can do that now if he actually had a case, he warned that these publishers would “have problems” if he is elected.

Another problem with Stone’s suggestion to de-license CNN is more pragmatic: It’s impossible. The FCC’s authority to regulate licensing is restricted to broadcast media (radio and TV) and they cannot revoke a cable news channel’s license because they don’t issue them. Broadcasters operate over the public airwaves, while cable channels are transmitted on privately owned cable facilities. So Stone’s counsel is not only unconstitutional, it demonstrates his utter ignorance of the subject matter.

Stone has a history of flagrantly offensive remarks that have insulted women and African-Americans. His racist and misogynist tendencies are often expressed openly. As a result he has been banned from both CNN and MSNBC. At Fox News they canceled a few of his recent appearances but have not formally banned him and he has not appeared in several weeks. That may be why he is resorting to fringe platforms like Breitbart to put out his repugnant message. Breitbart has all but officially endorsed Trump and there are credible allegations that Trump paid Breitbart for favorable treatment.

In closing the interview, Stone got to the point of his remarks with a shamelessly self-serving plug. He recommended that listeners get the “truth” by reading the book “The Clintons’ War On Women,” by Roger Stone. It’s a book that has been roundly rebuked by liberals and conservatives alike as being poorly written and sourced. But one thing it has going for it is that Donald Trump has made it his anti-Clinton bible. The diatribes Trump is currently spewing about Clinton’s past are all straight out of this book.

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

Listen to Stone’s interview via Media Matters:


Tax-Dodger Donald: Trump’s Own Documents Prove He Lied About The Value Of His Properties

Is Donald Trump a billionaire or a world-class grifter?

It has been difficult to pin down Trump’s net worth because he refuses to release his taxes until an alleged audit is complete. That excuse has been ridiculed by experts and even the IRS says there is nothing preventing him from making his own tax information public. Nevertheless, he is continuing to hide behind his lawyers and now says that his returns might not be released until after the election.

Donald Trump

Tax returns have been a staple disclosure in politics for nearly half a century. Hillary Clinton has made more than thirty years of returns available to the public. But Trump told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos this weekend that his tax rate is “none of your business.” However, there is data available through other tax filings that is shedding some light on Trump’s mysterious empire.

ABC News is reporting (video below) that the Trump National Golf Club in Westchester County, New York, was valued on Trump’s candidate disclosure statement at “more than $50 million.” The high valuation serves Trump’s political purposes to portray himself as a successful businessman. But when he declared the assessment of the resort for tax purposes he claimed that it was worth only $1.75 million. The difference between his tax declaration and his candidate disclosure amounts to a savings of 90% on his tax bill.

When asked by ABC’s Brian Ross to comment on the discrepancy, he was told that the matter was “decades old and not worthy of a response.” He said much the same thing to reporters asking about the recent discovery of an audio tape of him posing as his own fictional press agent when talking to the media. This is a statute of limitations that only applies to Trump, whose obsession with the Clintons’ marital difficulties from the 1990s he still considers fair game.

The ABC story cited several other instances when Trump was less than honest about paying his taxes. One particularly egregious incident was when he purchased the yacht that became his beloved “Trump Princess.” At the time he pretended to have a patriotic incentive for buying the luxury liner. He said:

“I like to see the great jewels of the country being owned by the people of this country. And it had a big play as to why I bought this boat.”

However, as Ross reported, Trump “used off-shore and out-of-state corporations to buy the yacht and saved him a tax bill of some $1.75 million.” What a patriot. Something that Ross left out is that later, when Trump was undergoing a severe financial crisis, he sold the yacht to Saudi Arabia’s Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal. So much for “the great jewels of the country.”

The Trump National property was purchased in foreclosure for $8 million, and he spent another $45 million developing the golf course and the club house. So either this property suffered a massive decline in value and Trump isn’t worth what he says he is, or he is deliberately undervaluing it to avoid his legal tax bill. Either way, one of his public declarations is a flagrant lie. And with this report by ABC News will the media pick up the story and begin to tell the truth about Trump’s dishonesty?

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


The Trump Effect: GOP Officially Supports Degrading Remarks Toward Women, Minorities

This election cycle has seen more than its fair share of unconventional occurrences. It began with a record seventeen Republican presidential candidates who, one-by-one, were struck down by a vulgarian throwback who rooted his campaign in lies and juvenile insults. The feral tactics of Donald Trump did more to validate public ignorance and rudeness than any politician in modern times.

Donald Trump Effect

Even worse, Trump’s overt hate mongering made it safe for racists, misogynists, and xenophobes to come out from the crevices in the floorboards and promote their bigotry with pride. Leading by example, his offensive attacks have been directed at women, Muslims, Latinos, and pretty much anyone with whom he had a disagreement. The KKK is bragging that they can use Trump for outreach to recruit new members, and other white supremacists have been campaigning for him in the primaries.

Much of Trump’s rhetoric revolves around a generalized disgust for what he calls political correctness. But his misinterpretation of term is really just his desire to be crude and insulting without consequence. And now that he has introduced that theme to his fans in the public and the press, the Republican Party is lining up behind it as well.

This weekend at the Nebraska Republican convention, the delegates were presented with an opportunity to make civility and respect for others a part of their party’s platform. The opportunity came in the form of a resolution condemning “degrading remarks toward women, minorities and other people by Republican elected office holders or party officials, including candidates for president of the United States.”

On its face this seems like it should be an uncontroversial proposal. Who would be in favor of degrading remarks toward women and minorities? Of course the answer to that question is “Donald Trump,” who has made such conduct his trademark. And this was so well recognized by the delegates at the convention that they actually quashed the resolution in an apparent attempt to protect the presumptive nominee of their party. Let’s repeat this for clarity: The delegates to the Nebraska Republican convention voted against condemning degrading remarks toward women and minorities.

To make matters worse, the delegate leading the pro-degrading movement was state school board member Pat McPherson, whose own background is littered with smarmy behavior including inappropriate behavior towards a woman, repeated references to President Obama as “a half-breed,” and charges of third-degree sexual assault. Seems like just the right person to kill this resolution and advance the Trump campaign.

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

There is something terribly wrong when a state party platform refuses to pass a resolution that condemns offensive. And it’s especially disturbing when the reason for that refusal is that it would reflect poorly on your party’s candidate for president who traffics in such remarks regularly. However, that’s where Trump has led his party, a party that is now on record as officially supporting remarks that are degrading to women and minorities. Congratulations.


Donald Trump Obsesses Over Hillary Clinton’s Past But Considers His Own Off Limits

The issue that Donald Trump has made the centerpiece of campaign against Hillary Clinton has been the timeworn marital difficulties she and her husband endured in the 1990s. Trump glommed onto this issue in response to Clinton’s advocacy of women’s rights in contrast to his own overt misogyny and his opposition to the reforms that matter most to women.

Donald Trump

Trump bitterly complained about Clinton asserting that he has “a penchant for sexism” and responded by accusing her of playing The Woman Card. But his defense rested entirely on dredging up the distant past of Bill Clinton’s infidelities and some baseless accusations that Hillary destroyed the lives of the women involved. He clearly doesn’t understand the nature of women’s issues or why they hate him so much. And despite Trump’s hyperbolic ranting that Bill Clinton was “the worst abuser of women in the history of politics,” a Fox News poll found that when women were asked who they thought was “more respectful of women” – Bill Clinton or Donald Trump – they responded overwhelming that it was Bill Clinton (55% to 31%).

Nevertheless, Trump continues to sharpen his attacks on Clinton’s past with every stump speech he delivers and every phone-in interview he gives to the media. This obsession with the past has now come back to haunt him. An audio from the 1990s has emerged that features Trump pretending to be his own fictional publicist. It was recorded for an interview with People Magazine. Trump is denying that the voice on the recording is his, but all the evidence suggests that he’s lying.

First of all, it sounds exactly like him and he repeatedly uses jargon that is unique and identifiable. In addition, the reporter from People Magazine says that not only was she certain that it was Trump, but that he admitted it afterwards saying that it was joke. Finally, CNN had a voice expert compare the recording to known recordings Trump and he said, with scientific certainty, that it was Trump. In response to the abundance of proof that Trump did perpetrate this fraud, and is lying about it now, Trump complained that

“You’re going so low to talk about something that took place 25 years ago whether or not I made a phone call? Let’s get on to more current subjects.”

Alrighty then. Presumably Trump will stop talking about the Clintons’ past marital troubles that took place 25 years ago. And if you believe that, then you’re already gullible enough to be a Trump supporter. And like most Trump supporters, it doesn’t bother you that your candidate assumed fake identities to brag about his business and sexual conquests, or lied about doing so when he was caught.

There are real differences between the old Clinton news and the old Trump news. The old Clinton news is not actually news. It has been known for decades. It also does not reflect on her behavior or credibility as a public leader. In fact, it ought to be regarded as a measure of honor that she and Bill managed to repair their marriage, respect their vows, and preserve their family. On the other hand, Trump’s news is indeed relevant today because it has never been revealed before. It’s actually news. And it plainly reflects on his character, defining him as a deceitful impostor and a liar.

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

It would nice if, the next time Trump goes off on the Clinton affairs, the media reminds him that he said that such past occurrences were “going so low” and should be dismissed in favor of “more current subjects.” Somehow I think that may be too much to expect from the media that made Trump in the first place. They have yet to learn the most basic lessons on how to interview him. Like preventing him from dodging questions, changing subjects, and filibustering with irrelevant trivialities. So that would be nice too.


Donald Trump Channels Sarah Palin In Incoherent Anti-Amazon.com Rant

In the past year Sean Hannity has hosted Donald Trump more than any other candidate for president. In fact, Trump’s visits account for about a third of the time of all candidate appearances on the program. So no one will be surprised that Trump was Hannity’s guest again last night (video below) giving him an opportunity to lash out at a media critic with his trademark hollow bluster.

Donald Trump Sarah Palin

It’s fair to say that Trump is never particularly rational in his tirades against critics. He generally avoids factual arguments and sticks with childish insults and irrelevancies that distract from the main issue. But in last night’s performance Trump ventured further off into confused hysteria that sounded more like one of Sarah Palin’s disjointed word salad babbling. The only way to properly convey the deranged oration is to let Trump do it himself. Here is what he told Hannity about his theory that Jeff Bezos, owner of both Amazon.com and the Washington Post, is engaged in a conspiracy against him in order to avoid paying taxes and preserve his alleged monopoly.

Trump: It’s interesting that you say that, because every hour we’re getting calls from reporters from The Washington Post, asking ridiculous questions, and I will tell you this is owned as a toy by Jeff Bezos, who controls Amazon. Amazon is getting away with murder, tax-wise. He’s using The Washington Post for power, so the politicians in Washington don’t tax Amazon like they should be taxed. He’s getting absolutely away — he’s worried about me, and I think he said that to somebody, it was in some article, where he thinks I would go after him for anti-trust, because he’s got a huge anti-trust problem because he’s controlling so much. Amazon is controlling so much of what they’re doing, and what they’ve done is he bought this paper for practically nothing, and he’s using that as a tool for political power, against me and against other people and I’ll tell you what, we can’t let him get away with it. So he’s got about 20, 25, I just heard they’re taking these really bad stories — I mean they’re, you know, wrong – I don’t even say bad, they’re wrong and in many cases, they have no proper information and they’re putting them together, they’re slopping them together, and they’re going to do a book and the book is going to be all false stuff, because the stories are so wrong and the reporters, I mean, one after another — so what they’re doing is he’s using that as a political instrument to try and stop anti-trust, which he thinks I believe he’s anti-trust, in other words what he’s got is a monopoly and he wants to make sure I don’t get in. So, it’s one of those things, but I’ll tell you what, I’ll tell you what, what he’s doing’s wrong and the people are being — the whole system is rigged. You see a case like that, the whole system is rigged, whether it’s Hillary or whether it’s Bezos.

Sheesh, take a breath. Trump speaks like a paranoid schizophrenic in run-on sentences that weave around poorly expressed and incomplete thoughts. His fear that Bezos is coming after him is rooted in sheer delusion. Trump doesn’t say how Amazon is a monopoly, an assertion that ignores the reality of the online consumer goods market that includes behemoths like Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Target, Macy’s and many more. Nor does he explain the tax issue, although it is likely related to the collection of sales taxes from which all online enterprises are exempt under certain circumstances. Is Trump proposing to eliminate that popular exemption? He does go on at length, though, about the sloppiness of the Post’s proposed book that he hasn’t seen and hasn’t even been written.

Of course, the attacks on Amazon are just Trump’s way of retaliating against the Washington Post, whose Associate Editor Bob Woodward recently disclosed that “We have 20 people working on Trump, we’re going to do a book, we’re doing articles about every phase of his life” This is nothing unusual in the ordinary course of vetting candidates for high office and the Post is doing the same for Hillary Clinton. But from Trump’s perspective it’s an unholy invasion of privacy and a flagrant political attack. Consequently, an hysterical Trump aims both intellectually empty barrels at, not just the Post, but Amazon and its CEO Bezos. And fanboy Hannity’s response: “Wow!”

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

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Fox News “Psycho” Analyst: Donald Trump’s Narcissism Is Exactly What America Needs

Keith Ablow, a member of the Fox News Medical A-Team, has never been shy about taking absurd positions that make a mockery of the psychiatric calling that he pretends to represent. Some of his past adventures in malpractice include his charges that President Obama was waging psychological warfare on the American people, that Newt Gingrich was honorable for being unfaithful to multiple wives, and my personal favorite, he actually praised the Unabomber’s sociopathic philosophy. And now he is applying his remote diagnostic “skills” to the presumptuous Republican nominee for president, Donald Trump.

Fox News Keith Ablow

Ablow was a guest on Fox & Friends (video below) to explain his latest theory on the psychology of leadership. He was introduced by host Steve Doocy who said:

“Conservatives, and some liberals alike, continuing to slam presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump for being narcissistic, but is being narcissistic necessarily a bad trait for the president to have?”

In Ablow’s view, Trump’s narcissism is an asset that will benefit the nation that he says is “emerging from eight years of self-loathing.” Furthermore, he asserts that Trump’s “narcissism is deeply entwined with a love for America.” According to Ablow’s perverse logic, narcissism is pretty much the same thing as patriotism. This is a concept he expanded on in an op-ed for the Fox News website. Ablow associated Trump’s self-love with “loving his freedom to speak bluntly, in loving his freedom to own property…”

However, what Ablow is describing is not narcissism. his remarks seem to suggest that he has no idea what the term means. It’s possible to appreciate free speech and property ownership without being a narcissist – as most Americans can tell you. The Mayo Clinic defines Narcissistic Personality Disorder as…

“…a mental disorder in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for admiration and a lack of empathy for others. But behind this mask of ultraconfidence lies a fragile self-esteem that’s vulnerable to the slightest criticism.”

By that definition Trump appears to be a textbook example of a narcissist. He never stops talking about how awesome he thinks he is (even when it’s entirely undeserved) and how much he imagines everyone loves him. And his aversion to criticism is revealed in every hostile (and juvenile) tweet he posts whenever someone dares to be less than totally devoted to him.

What’s more, Ablow ignores negative traits, such as lacking empathy, that make narcissists wholly unfit for leadership roles. Their agenda would always be focused on how it benefits them, without regard for anyone else. The best leaders would actually reverse those traits and make the pursuit of helping others their primary objective.

Ablow has demonstrated that he qualifies as a loyal Trump toady. In his op-ed he praised Trump effusively saying that “Donald Trump is John Wayne. Donald Trump is Babe Ruth.” That praise is itself revealing. Notice that Ablow likened Trump to an actor and an athlete rather than to governing icons like Thomas Jefferson or Abraham Lincoln. And he has been bitterly opposed to President Obama for years, even referring to him as a toxic virus from which our children must be immunized.

But Ablow has also demonstrated that he does not qualify as a reputable psychiatrist. This isn’t just because he doesn’t know what a narcissist is, or because his deep hatred and bias against Obama taints his analysis of everything he says. It’s because he uses his personal prejudice as a cudgel to attack those with whom he disagrees. And he is so determined to insult and defame his perceived enemies that he abandons all reason and logic. That’s why he can exalt Donald Trump for being a narcissist, while disparaging Obama for the same thing, as he did a few years ago. When Obama was running for reelection in 2012, Ablow condemned him saying:

“We’ve never had a self-regarding narcissist quite like the Oval Office’s current occupant.”

At the time, Ablow considered that an argument against voting for Obama’s second term. But now he is looking forward to having Donald Trump, a narcissist of his liking, in the Oval Office and arguing that his narcissism is an affirmative reason to give him your vote. That’s just crazy. I’m tempted to cite the old biblical proverb “physician, heal thyself,” but in Ablow’s case I wouldn’t recommend it. His psychological infirmity is so profound that he should make the effort to find someone who isn’t a quack.

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


Fox News Falsely Reports That Clinton Aide “Stormed” Out Of FBI Interview

With the market for manufactured scandals losing steam, Fox News is getting desperate for new avenues of attack against Hillary Clinton. Their already in progress effort to impeach her has been going nowhere. Trey Gowdy’s House Committee To Politicize Benghazi has wasted millions of dollars, and untold hours, but found nothing incriminating against Clinton. The accusers of Planned Parenthood have themselves been indicted. And the never-ending investigations into Clinton’s email server was recently declared to have uncovered “scant evidence” of any wrongdoing. So what will Fox News do now?

Fox News

Not to worry. Fox News will do what they always do: Invent some new controversy that they can hash around for a couple of days before everyone realizes that there’s nothing to it, and then pretend it never happened. In that spirit Fox News anchor Greta Van Susteran introduced a segment (video below) that alleged that one of Clinton’s trusted confidants was an uncooperative witness during an FBI interview about Clinton’s email.

“Long-time Clinton aide Cheryl Mills reportedly storming out of the interview over an off-limits topic,” was how Van Susteran opened the segment. The story was picked up by Fox News correspondent Catherine Herridge who got it from the Washington Post. Herridge’s lede was that this was…

“…a discussion of her conversations with Mrs. Clinton over which emails would be produced to the state department as part of the FOIA [Freedom of Information Act] request. […] This was negotiated to be off-limits because of attorney-client privilege.”

Van Susteren, an attorney before she joined Fox News, responded with a surprisingly coherent comment that should have put the matter to bed. She said “That actually would be routine that that would be off-limits, so it’s nothing surprising.” However, neither of them recanted the characterization of Mills as having stomped off in huff.

For some context, the Washington Post article that was the source of this story had an entirely different tone. For starters, their headline said only that “Clinton aide Cheryl Mills leaves FBI interview briefly after being asked about emails.” There was nothing in the article about anyone “storming” out. That was a rhetorical invention by Fox News. To the contrary, it was portrayed as a normal practice during such interviews when witnesses need to confer privately with their lawyers. In fact, it was the FBI investigator who was considered to have overstepped his boundaries:

“[A]n FBI investigator broached a topic with longtime Hillary Clinton aide Cheryl Mills that her lawyer and the Justice Department had agreed would be off limits, according to several people familiar with the matter.

“Mills and her lawyer left the room — though both returned a short time later — and prosecutors were somewhat taken aback that their FBI colleague had ventured beyond what was anticipated, the people said.”

This afternoon on Fox’s “Your World with Neil Cavuto” the subject was brought up again with Fox legal analyst Andrew Napolitano telling Cavuto that a “courageous” FBI agent asked questions that all parties previously agreed would be improper. He praised the FBI agent for violating the “baloney” agreement to honor attorney/client privilege.

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

So Fox News took a rather uneventful account of the FBI meeting with Mills and transformed it into a fictional battle between valiant FBI heroes and a shady Clinton crony. Admittedly, that’s a more exciting narrative than what really happened, but it’s also patently untrue. But considering the dearth of any legitimate mud that Fox has to fling at Clinton, it’s understandable that they are resorting to these desperate measures. Expect more of the same for the next five months.


GOP Senator Attempts To Strongarm Facebook Over Bias Allegations

In what may be one of the most alarming examples of government overreach, the Republican chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, Sen. John Thune, is injecting himself into the operations of Facebook’s news publishing. Upon hearing about a report by Gizmodo that Facebook might be slanting the articles that appear in their Trending Topics section, Thune fired off a letter to Facebook demanding an accounting of their procedures.

John Thune Facebook

It needs to be stated firstly that the article on Gizmodo consists only of unsupported allegations from anonymous sources. They claim to be former Facebook contractors so their shield of anonymity seems peculiar since Facebook cannot retaliate against them. However, without any identity it’s impossible to know whether they have ulterior motives or are disgruntled ex-employees lashing out for their own reasons. They provided no documented proof to support their claims of bias. Yet they did admit that “there is no evidence that Facebook management mandated or was even aware of any political bias at work.” So the whole story may be the overblown product of personal grudges. Which makes what happened next all the more troubling.

After the story was pumped through the conservative media echo chamber, where Fox News took particular interest (more on that later), it eventually landed on the desk of Sen. Thune. His response was to write a letter to Facebook expressing his concern that the company might be inappropriately influencing its audience. The letter said…

“Facebook has enormous influence over users’ perceptions of current events, including political perspectives. If Facebook presents its Trending Topics section as the result of a neutral, objective algorithm, but it is in fact filtered to support particular political viewpoints, Facebook’s assertion that it maintains a ‘platform for people and perspectives from across the political spectrum’ misleads the public.”

Thune also stated in a press release about the letter that…

“Facebook must answer these serious allegations and hold those responsible to account if there has been political bias in the dissemination of trending news,” said Thune on sending the letter. “Any attempt by a neutral and inclusive social media platform to censor or manipulate political discussion is an abuse of trust and inconsistent with the values of an open Internet.”

Oh really? So now the federal government is empowered to force a news provider to refrain from any political bias and, according to Thune, failure to do so is regarded as “an abuse of trust.” Asserting the heavy hand of government, Thune instructed Facebook to make its employees available to brief his committee. What’s more, Thune asserts that Facebook is “mislead[ing] the public” if they falsely claim to be a “platform for people and perspectives from across the political spectrum.”

So when will Thune be sending a similar letter to Fox News? After all, Fox has been falsely claiming to be “fair and balanced” for years. They also have enormous influence over “perceptions of current events, including political perspectives,” yet they regularly “censor and manipulate” their reporting.

The arguments made by Thune are a flagrant violation of the constitutional right to the freedom of the press. Congress has no business interfering with the editorial decisions made by the journalists employed by Facebook. If there is bias in their work it can be reported by other journalists, protested by media watchdogs, and the public always has the opportunity to make up its own mind as to whether to patronize Facebook or any other news enterprise.

From the moment this story broke, Fox News has expressed their outrage that the liberal weasels at Facebook would dare to suppress conservative stories. They treated it as if the allegations were proven facts, which of course they were not. Facebook has already looked into the charges and responded saying that “We take these reports extremely seriously, and have found no evidence that the anonymous allegations are true.” But that hasn’t stopped Fox News from continuing to portray Facebook as being guilty of grossly prejudicing their news coverage.

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

Anyone who has watched Fox News for twenty minutes recognizes the absurdity of Fox complaining about another organization being biased. But the intrusion of the government on behalf of offended right-wingers who cannot even validate their charges is beyond the pale. Thune is overstepping his authority by threatening to investigate Facebook and demanding their compliance. Even Fox’s media correspondent, Howard Kurtz, was taken aback by Thune’s aggressive approach. Kurtz told Fox Business Network host Trish Regan that “If Thune had sent a letter like that to the New York Times or the Washington Post or Fox News we’d probably tell them to buzz off.” And that’s exactly what Facebook should tell them.

[Update:] Steve Benen at MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow blog takes Thune to task noting that he is “The wrong Republican to pick a fight with Facebook.” As a leading opponent of Net Neutrality and the defunct Fairness Doctrine, Thune previously condemned the sort of government intrusion he is currently engaging in. In a 2007 article he said that “the hair stands up on the back of my neck when I hear government officials offering to regulate the news media and talk radio to ensure fairness.” Perhaps he shaved his neck since then.


New York Post’s Latest Hillary Clinton Lie Refuted In Their Own Article

It takes a special kind of stupid to make an argument stating one thing, and then provide support for that argument that proves the opposite. Yet that’s exactly what the New York Post did Friday with an editorial attacking Hillary Clinton. The editorial carried the provocative headline: “Hillary’s latest email lie didn’t even last a week.”

Hillary Clinton New York Post

This headline is not only accusing Clinton of lying with her response to a new question about her email, it also declares, without evidence, that she has lied about it previously. The Post expects their readers to blindly absorb their dishonest “reporting” and, lucky for them, they are right. Conservatives have demonstrated that they are more than willing to accept unsubstantiated BS as gospel without ever bothering to verify it.

In this editorial, the unidentified authors claim that Clinton gave a false answer to a question by MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell who asked “Have you been contacted — or your representatives contacted — by the FBI to set up an interview.” Clinton answered “No,” which the Post immediately labeled a lie. They gave two “reasons” to back up their accusation, both of which don’t hold up.

First, they pointed out that “the FBI has already interviewed Clinton’s closest confidant, Huma Abedin, and other top aides.” So how does that support the claim that Clinton lied? She wasn’t asked if any of her associates were interviewed. She was asked if there had been any efforts to set up an interview for her. She said that there have not been, and all of the available information supports her answer. The Post has no information whatsoever that contradicts her.

The second reason the Post gave to “prove” that Clinton lied is that “officials close to the probe say Hillary’s to be interviewed in the next few weeks — which means she’s surely been contacted.” Actually the Post has no knowledge that Clinton has “surely been contacted” and are themselves lying by making up what they would like to think it “means” when a general statement is made that Clinton will be interviewed at some unspecified time in the future. It does not, in fact, mean what they say it does.

What the Post is not reporting (and that CNN did report) is that “so far investigators haven’t found evidence to prove that Clinton willfully violated the law the U.S. officials say.” That’s not consistent with the guilty-until-proven-innocent (and probably not even then) narrative that the conservative media is pushing. So don’t expect to see it in the Post or on Fox News.

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

As for the Post’s article, both of the reasons supplied in it to affirm that Clinton lied actually affirm that she told the truth. This is the sort of bogus perversion of journalism that is the hallmark of Rupert Murdoch’s media empire. The Post article was also published on the Fox News community website, Fox Nation which, along with the Post is owned by Murdoch.