Freakout At Fox News: DHS Report Cites Threat Of Right-Wing Extremists

There is nothing that stirs up the rancid juices of a conservative sociopath like being fingered as a conservative sociopath. It’s very much the same furious reaction that racists have when you point out that they’re being racist. And this week the American Taliban got their feathers ruffled again by the Department of Homeland Security’s “intelligence assessment” that reportedly “focuses on the domestic terror threat from right-wing sovereign citizen extremists.”

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The release of this report predictably ignited a temper tantrum by the hypersensitive rage-meisters at Fox News. They immediately slammed the report as being offensive to the totally rational, peace-loving, icons of harmony that populate the Tea Party and other rightist models of national unity. Why ever would they be regarded as potentially dangerous just because they brag about their arsenals while holding signs that say “We came unarmed – this time.”

Never mind that the report documents a couple of dozen instances of criminal violence by wingnuts in the mold of Timothy McVeigh and Eric Rudolph. And set aside the fact that state and local law enforcement officers, when surveyed last year, cited “sovereign citizen terrorists” as the top domestic terror threat ahead of foreign Islamic jihadis. That’s an understandable and thoroughly logical conclusion coming from the first responders who are often the targets of the anti-government right-wingers. Just ask the families of the two Las Vegas police officers who were murdered by followers of Cliven Bundy, the deadbeat rancher who assembled a brigade of armed protesters to do battle with agents from the Bureau of Land Management.

The zealousness with which Fox News defends violent American jihadis who hate the government (particularly since that black guy was elected) is evidence of their support for extremists, so long as they are extreme in the proper fashion. This response to a perfectly reasonable law enforcement analysis only validates the politicization of national security that Fox engages in. At Fox News they don’t care if a heavily armed NRA “patriot” is parading around the Wal-Mart with assault weapons. But if a black kid with an iced tea and a bag of Skittles is gunned down by a self-appointed vigilante while walking home, then Fox portrays him as a thug who must have been up to no good.

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

What makes this outburst of outrage even more ludicrous is that the DHS is only doing its job of protecting the American people. They are not playing favorites by drawing attention to extremists on the right. The proof of that is that the feds previously published a report that warned of the potential dangers of left-wing extremists. News Corpse wrote about this six years ago, the last time that Fox News and other wingnut media mouthpieces went bonkers over a DHS report. That article contained a link to a security analysis that said…

“Left-wing extremism is ‘alive and well’ both in the US and internationally. … There are individuals and organizations within the U.S. who maintain the same ideology that resulted in the growth of left-wing terrorism in this country in the 1970s and 1980s … and new leaders and groups are emerging.”

Good luck trying to find any reporting on Fox News about that study. While there are a few mentions of left-wing extremism on Fox, they are conspicuously thin and refer primarily to animal rights activists and environmentalists – a scary bunch of bloodthirsty hooligans if there ever were any.

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Fox News Helps Bill O’Reilly Defend His Combat Lies By Lying Even More

[Be sure to see this update (2/22/15) with O’Reilly’s interview on Fox’s MediaBuzz]

Two weeks ago News Corpse reported that Bill O’Reilly had committed substantially the same sins of historical “embellishment” that got NBC’s Brian Williams a six month suspension. He said on numerous occasions that he had been personally involved in combat situations where his life was at risk. None of it was true.

Fox News Bill O'Reilly

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This week David Corn of Mother Jones did a more in-depth article that documented additional instances of O’Reilly misrepresenting his war reporting. Corn’s piece was a fair investigation into O’Reilly’s own accounts of his past that significantly differ from reality. It’s a must read to understand the full measure of O’Reilly’s dishonesty.

Not surprisingly, Fox News and O’Reilly himself are hitting back hard to dispute Corn’s well researched article. O’Reilly has resorted to the most childish sort of response by calling Corn names such as “guttersnipe, irresponsible, liar,” and that old O’Reilly stand-by, “far left zealot.” What he never does is refute a single charge made in the article with any facts. The whole of O’Reilly’s defense is his insistence that “Everything I’ve reported about my journalistic career is true.” If that’s so, then why doesn’t he prove it?

The Fox Nation posted an advance transcript of O’Reilly’s Talking Points Memo that he delivers at the start of every broadcast. This is possibly the first time that has ever been done, which speaks to the gravity of this problem and how seriously O’Reilly considers the potential fallout. In the transcript O’Reilly repeats the insults aimed at Corn that he previously gave to reporters and adds more invective directed to his publisher, saying “Mother Jones … which has low circulation … considered by many the bottom rung of journalism in America.”

The “many” to which O’Reilly refers is likely his family and the dimwits who watch his program. In the real world Mother Jones is a respected publication that has distinguished itself by winning numerous journalism awards including honors from the National Press Club, The PEN American Center, American Society of Magazine Editors, Society of Professional Journalists, Online News Association, and a 2012 George Polk Award for Corn’s investigation of the now famous 47% speech by Mitt Romney. The Polk Award may have provided the harshest sting because it is one that O’Reilly was caught lying about having received himself. It was now-Sen. Al Franken who exposed that O’Reilly fib.

Rushing to O’Reilly’s aid is Fox’s media analyst and host of MediaBuzz, Howard Kurtz. In an article posted to the Fox News website, Kurtz whitewashes O’Reilly’s self-mythologizing by asserting that “the Mother Jones piece appears to turn on semantics.” Then Kurtz posts some of O’Reilly’s false statements that are not remotely semantic in nature. For instance:

–In a 2001 book, O’Reilly said: “I’ve reported on the ground in active war zones from El Salvador to the Falklands.”

–In a Washington panel discussion, O’Reilly said: “I’ve covered wars, okay? I’ve been there. The Falklands, Northern Ireland, the Middle East. I’ve almost been killed three times, okay.”

–In a 2004 column, O’Reilly wrote: “Having survived a combat situation in Argentina during the Falklands war, I know that life-and-death decisions are made in a flash.”

Kurtz writes that in these statements “the dispute comes down to O’Reilly’s shorthand use of the Falklands and the term “war zone.” Huh? What on Earth does that mean? Is Kurtz excusing outright lies with the explanation that O’Reilly was using the lies as shorthand for the truth, and therefore it’s OK?

It’s clear from the statements that Kurtz himself referenced that O’Reilly had put himself “on the ground in active war zones,” and said that he was “there…in the Falklands,” and that he “survived a combat situation in Argentina.” Since there was no combat anywhere in Argentina other than on the Falkland Islands, O’Reilly is implying that that’s where he was. Which he wasn’t. He also was not in Argentina “during the Falklands war,” but arrived after it was over.

Kurtz ignored all of these obviously mis-factual statements in order to absolve O’Reilly of any guilt. Later Kurtz writes that “Corn’s own piece largely backs up O’Reilly’s account of the dangerous situation.” No, actually, it does not. Corn did point out that some of the statements O’Reilly made were corroborated by other accounts, but he never came close to dismissing the multiple assertions by O’Reilly (like those above) that were blatantly false.

In the end Kurtz attempted an awkward exoneration of O’Reilly by claiming that Corn’s reporting was “a far cry from a bogus claim of having been shot down in a helicopter.” How so? By any fair standard O’Reilly’s remarks that placed him in harm’s way on a battlefield (“almost been killed three times”) are at least three times worse than Williams’ mis-remembering of a single event.

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

O’Reilly’s lies are a repulsive attempt to exalt himself and his faux bravado. He has repeated these lies for decades in books, on television, and in personal appearances, and now, even after being caught, he refuses to apologize. If anyone deserves to be suspended for an extended period of time, it’s O’Reilly. But he has nothing to worry about on that score. Fox News has never acquitted itself in a respectable manner, particularly when it comes to journalistic integrity. They aren’t about to start now.

However, the stain O’Reilly leaves has now spread to Howard Kurtz, whose groveling and desperate defense is deceitful, unethical, and embarrassing. He should be suspended as well for aiding and abetting O’Reilly’s fraudulent fabrications. Of course, Kurtz will also escape accountability. It’s a perk that comes with working for Fox News. Unscrupulous dishonesty will never be a cause for punishment. At Fox News it is more likely to earn a promotion.

UPDATE: The festering ego we know as Bill O’Reilly came to his own rescue last night by devoting a chunk of his program to piling on more lies about his war reporting. He recruited his pals Bernie Goldberg and Geraldo Rivera as his character witnesses. Meanwhile, actual war correspondents are coming forward to criticize O’Reilly and veterans groups are calling for Fox News to take O’Reilly off the air:

VoteVets: “NBC acted completely appropriately in taking Brian Williams off the air and looking into claims he’s made over the years. Fox News has to do the same thing. […] Men and women have fought, died, been wounded, and scarred by war. There are many journalists who actually were in the crossfire, who died, trying to bring the story to the American people. What Bill O’Reilly has done is steal their valor, and it is wrong.”


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

On that basis, here is Attkisson’s list:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Available now at Amazon.

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

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

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


An Open Letter To Rush Limbaugh From The Deranged, Literally Insane, Filled With Hatred, Democrat Party Base

Dear Rush,

Have you finally gone completely off your titanium-reinforced, bubble-enclosed, Viagra IV-fitted, rocker? Not that anyone could tell the difference from what you have been spewing for the last quarter century, but your latest tirade is either evidence of a severe thrombotic stroke, or you are deliberately providing late night comedians with new material.

Rush Limbaugh

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Your re-imagining of recent history with regard to the catastrophic falsehoods that were dispensed by the Bush administration in order to justify the invasion of Iraq is simply preposterous. Rather than recognizing the reams of documentation that the Bush administration mislead the nation and the world about “Weapons of Mass Destruction,” you attempt to turn that fact into a lie saying that…

“One of the biggest lies told during the Iraq war was that Bush lied us into war. That lie, that propaganda has done more damage to this nation’s ability to take on legitimate terrorism with confidence and assurity (sic) and defeat it. For however many years the Iraq war went on, every night on Comedy Central, practically every night, the audience there heard about it was all a lie. That Bush lied, people died, Bush Hitler.”

So it’s Comedy Central’s fault that America has failed to eradicate terrorism from the planet? [Damn you Jon Stewart!] And because of them the U.S. military has been drained of its legitimacy and confidence? That’s a pretty nasty remark to make about the heroes who are defending your freedom. Setting aside your contention that “practically every night” they were associating Bush with Hitler (which is more like never on any night), the assignment of responsibility to a cable comedy network for what you believe to be damaging to military readiness should be cause for concern by those who care for you. But you didn’t stop there:

“Every night for whatever number of years, seven years, six years, Comedy Central, Stewart, Colbert, you name it, Bush lied. The mainstream media, every day, every week, Bush lied. What did that do? In the minds of young skulls full of mush, it turned around the Iraq war into a joke, number one. It turned Bush into a joke. It turned the country into a joke, and it told everybody that everything we were doing over there was illegitimate because we had no business being there, that there was no terrorism.”

For your information, Bush didn’t need any help to be turned into a joke. And America’s “Young Skulls Full Of Mush” [YSFOM: The name of my next punk rock band] had the same opinion as most of the rest of the nation about his criminal adventures in the Middle East. We didn’t have any business being there since it had nothing to do with the attacks on 9/11, and all of the evidence presented as validation was fabricated.

For much of your rant you diverted to subjects that had no bearing on your topic. For instance, you found some excuse to complain bitterly that feminist extremists were pushing an agenda that defined all sex in college as rape. I have a disturbing notion that you are subconsciously projecting your own experiences during your truncated college years which, by all indications, were unsuccessful both academically and socially. And when you returned to the harangue of the day, your hostility could no longer be restrained and was loosed with a fury at the innocent and unsuspecting fans of a television comedy channel:

“Many of these people make up the deranged, literally insane, filled with hatred, Democrat Party base. And Obama can’t call it terrorism because his comedian buddies have spent seven years saying it didn’t exist.”

Well that settles it. Now that you have established that the millions of “literally insane” hate-mongering viewers of political satire are the core of the Democratic Party it will be much easier to dismiss them when they point out that your insights about the President are completely without merit. Where, for instance, did you get the idea that Obama’s comments about terrorism were influenced by “his comedian buddies?” Even if that were true, it’s better than being influenced by the terrorists, which is the case for you, Fox News, and other right-wing bloviators.

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

In closing, it is hard to fathom your assertions that the YSFOM ever accused Bush of lying about ISIS since there was no ISIS when Bush was president. Maybe you are conceding the fact that his ill-advised policies resulted in the creation of ISIS and led to a rise in terrorism worldwide. But that would require an assumption that there is still some remnant of sanity in your diseased brain. Lacking any other corroborating evidence of that, it would be safer to assume otherwise.

Yours truly (if you still know what that means),
The Deranged, Literally Insane, Filled With Hatred, Democrat Party Base.
cc: Young Skulls Full Of Mush


The Sad Missed Opportunity Of Larry Wilmore’s Nightly Show

When Stephen Colbert Announced that he was leaving The Colbert Report to take over David Letterman’s Late Night on CBS, there was an understandable heaving of sighs at the thought of losing one of television’s most unique and talented observers of politics and the press. Colbert had forged a trail that had been unexplored for years and even brought his fake comedic persona into the real world with appearances before Congress, newsmaker interviews, and founding his own Super PAC that raised more than a million dollars.

While fans could look forward to his reemergence as the host of Late Night, the vacancy at Comedy Central gave the network the opportunity to build a new franchise with a fresh outlook. Their selection of Daily Show alum Larry Wilmore was a positive sign. He is a bright, experienced, likable, and truly funny personality. The anticipation for his premiere was bursting with hope.

Larry Wilmore Nightly Show

Unfortunately, the reality has not lived up to the expectations. Rather than presenting a program that could carry on in the tradition of satirical media scrutiny and, when appropriate, ridicule, the Nightly Show took a lazier approach that mimicked what many cable news networks already provide.

The opening segment is the best part of the program. It features Wilmore seated anchor-style at a desk delivering his take on the news of the day. The problem with the show is all of the rest of it.

By choosing to conduct a panel discussion with people that are often neither funny nor interesting, the Nightly Show took the lazy way out. What made Colbert and Jon Stewart shine was their penchant for bringing together the best professionals to write and produce highly entertaining and thought provoking material. There is no way that a bunch of random people sitting around a table engaging in extemporaneous banter, that is mostly attempts to impress the other panelists, is going to have the comedic punch of a well-scripted and rehearsed program. It takes work to be funny, insightful and entertaining, but what the Nightly Show did was to fashion a weak copy of The Five from Fox News and then lean back for a snooze.

The Nightly Show has very little preparation or input from pros with a track record for producing laughs or connecting with an audience. Consequently, the Nightly Show, in this format, can never have the relationship with viewers that Colbert and Stewart have had. As evidence of its failure, note that almost every episode of Stewart’s and Colbert’s shows resulted in clips being posted online that got as much or more attention as the original broadcast. The same thing happens with bits from John Oliver’s HBO program, Last Week. But this has rarely happened with Nightly since its debut a month ago?

Part of the problem is the array of guests. Those who have been reasonably good were the ones with actual experience in show business. However, the politicos and press performed no differently than they might have on CNN. That is not what most people watch Comedy Central to see. And the worst of it comes in the form of blatantly exploitative and hacks like anti-vaxxer Zoey O’Toole, and Amy Holmes, who reports for the conspiracy-kook/televangelist Glenn Beck. Why would Wilmore give someone like that a platform on his show?

However, even with better guests there is no substitute for professionals with experience doing the hard work of crafting good comedy. And that is what Nightly is missing. It’s not too late to retool the program. Let Wilmore unleash his proven talent as a comedian the way he did in his appearances on the Daily Show. Strip out the gimmicky bits (i.e. Keep it 100) that will only become tiresome over time. Wilmore does not have to imitate Colbert, but he can learn from the format that was always changing things up. Colbert had The Word, Tip of the Hat, Better Know a District, the Threat Down, etc., and he kept them fresh by not doing hackneyed versions of them every day.

There is still an opportunity for Wilmore to become his own kind of icon over time if he’s committed to putting in the labor and collaborating with other talented pros. Television has enough panel sessions with people speaking off the top of their heads and saying nothing of interest. Wilmore is better than that and I hope he realizes it soon and trusts himself to carry the whole show on his own.

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

On a separate but related matter, there will soon be another vacancy on Comedy Central’s schedule. When Jon Stewart leaves, the network needs to replace him with someone who can fit the format and expand it to even higher heights. It doesn’t have to be a superstar. Nobody knew who Stewart was when he took the helm from Craig Kilborn. (Although if they could scrape up enough cash to hook Tina Fey that would be awesome). But there is someone who seems to be uniquely qualified and well-suited for the job. John Fugelsang is a talented comedian with a broad knowledge of politics, current events, and culture. He can pontificate on matters that are serious in a way that is engaging, entertaining, and connects with an audience.

John Fugelsang

Fugelsang has the TV anchor good looks that draw people in before they’re aware that they are about to be hit with a punch line. And he has experience with both hosting a television program and interviewing people from politics and as well as other walks of life. It was Fugelsang who got Mitt Romney’s communications director, Eric Fehrnstrom, to compare campaigning to an Etch A Sketch, thus cementing his reputation as a flip-flopper.

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Dr. Ben ‘Strangelove’ Carson Advocates Abandoning The Geneva Conventions

One of this year’s official candidates in the Fox News Republican primary for president is former pediatric brain surgeon, Ben Carson. The road to the White House for this neophyte politico has been fraught with embarrassing missteps such as his opinion that America is “very much like Nazi Germany,” and that ObamaCare is “the worst thing in this nation since slavery.”

Ben Carson

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This morning Carson visited his temporarily former employer, Fox News, and spoke with anchor Bill Hemmer about the war on terrorism. Much of the interview consisted of worn out cliches and anachronistic quotes, but eventually Hemmer asked Carson what he would if he were president. Carson said that…

“Our military needs to know that they’re not going be prosecuted when they come back, because somebody has said, ‘You did something that was politically incorrect.’ There is no such thing as a politically correct war. We need to grow up, we need to mature. If you’re gonna have rules for war, you should just have a rule that says no war. Other than that, we have to win. Our life depends on it.”

So the warhawk doctor is proposing that the United States withdraw from the Geneva Conventions. He believes that American soldiers should be free to commit atrocities, war crimes, and other brutalities that are generally associated with our enemies. And if our side does engage in such acts, they should not be held accountable in any way.

Obviously Carson is completely ignorant of the factors that led to the world adopting the Geneva Conventions in the first place. It was not merely a document intended to define humane behavior during wartime (a specious concept to begin with). Its purpose was also to protect Americans from being mistreated and abused by other countries with whom we were in conflict.

Carson’s doctrine of “no rules” would expose Americans, military and otherwise, to torture, cruel prison conditions, humiliation, and execution. And it would not enhance the prosecution of the war on terror in any way. However, it would affirm the image of the United States, in the eyes of many nations, as being hypocritical, untrustworthy, and convinced of its own superiority. These are not traits likely to advance our interests in international diplomacy.

In the end, the Carson doctrine would only harm our ability to defeat the terrorists by alienating our allies and validating the tactics of the enemy. That is a doctrine that is bound to fail, but it is also one that stems from inexperience and the arrogance of the ignorant. Carson is not a deep thinker and his strategies would lead to disaster. Consequently, he will remain one of the GOP’s top candidates for the foreseeable future.

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

UPDATE: Carson was interviewed Monday on NewsmaxTV and went even further to suggest that if the Department of Homeland Security is not funded prior to running out of money this month, then Obama might be guilty of treason. So according to Carson, soldiers should be permitted to commit atrocities without consequence, but Obama should be subject to execution if the GOP’s tactic of holding legislation hostage results in a shutdown. Sheesh!


Untrue Grit: Fox News Thinks America Needs Fake Cowboys To Defeat The Terrorists

An editorial on the Fox Nation website takes on the profound question of what sort of hats our presidents should wear. But this isn’t an allegory for the duties assumed while governing the world’s greatest superpower (i.e. economist’s hat, general’s hat, etc.). No, it is far more shallow and childish than that. The headline alludes to the “Musings Of An Average Joe: We Need A Cowboy, Not A Community Organizer.” Accompanying this simplistic nonsense is a collage of some American presidents including Ronald Reagan and George Bush wearing cowboy hats, while Obama sports a safety helmet for bicycling.

There is so much wrong with this before even getting to the substance of the article. First of all, Ronald Reagan was born in Illinois and spent the whole of his adult life in big cities, primarily Hollywood. His association with cowboys is mostly due to having played them in movies. What could be more artificial? Well, perhaps the notion of Bush, a Connecticut native, Yale/Harvard grad (barely), as a western hero. And finally, it isn’t difficult to find photos of these same presidents in different hats, if all Fox is interested in is playing dress-up.

Fox Nation

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The article is an homage to uncontrolled rage. The premise revolves around the opinion of Fox’s alleged “average” Joe Billelo that Obama did not go sufficiently bonkers upon learning about the death of Kayla Mueller at the hands of ISIL terrorists. He wondered…

“Why didn’t Obama address the nation and the world that very day with genuine anger and rage? A rage that can’t be expressed with a teleprompter. Why didn’t he assure the American people that this brutality will not stand on his watch?”

In other words. why didn’t Obama rip out his hair and run around the room screaming banshee-style while throwing lamps at his aides and ordering the Pentagon bomb something – anything. Essentially, Joe wants to know why the President didn’t react in precisely the manner that the terrorists hope when they commit their murderous acts. It’s called “terror” -ism because it’s the intention of the perpetrators to instill the fear that terror produces into the hearts of their enemies. And every time anyone capitulates to that tactic they are advancing the goals of the terrorist.

President Obama is absolutely right to respond in a calm but assertive manner by issuing strong condemnations and promising justice. The notion that Obama has not given assurances that he will not tolerate such brutality is only plausible to the most vacant, tea-soaked brains. While professional Obama-haters like this Average Joe call for pointless, physical manifestations of drooling fury, Obama has efficiently disposed of more than 6,000 actual terrorist fighters, including more than half of their top commanders. While rightist pundits and politicians whine impotently about symbolic trivialities like the President not appending the word “Islamic” to every mention of terror, Obama forges alliances with the true representatives of the Muslim world who are offended by those who would allow terrorists to falsely appropriate the mantle of their faith.

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

In light of the ludicrous arguments made in this editorial, it isn’t surprising that it would use the image of a cowboy to make a point about international diplomacy. Calling someone a cowboy generally means that they are dangerously impulsive and untrustworthy. They are the sort that shoots first and asks questions later. They are, therefore, exactly what the images of Reagan and Bush project. They are phonies who mistake movie bravado for real-world courage and wisdom. And they believe that slapping a cowboy hat on an urban faker makes him a gunslinging champion of freedom. That’s how superficial and dimwitted these cretins are. And what’s even worse, they appear to be proud of it.


Shill Baby Shill: Sarah Palin’s Subscription Website Is Just Another Scam

In recent days there has been a flurry of activity (mostly concentrated within the Republican National Committee and Fox News) asking in faux-worried tones where Hillary Clinton is hiding. Of course, Clinton is neither a public official nor a candidate for office, so her whereabouts are strictly her own business. Nevertheless, the “Hillary Hiding” campaign was created by the RNC and Fox picked it up verbatim to enhance their already festering anti-Clinton programming. And as usual, they have a severely myopic view of the world and are oblivious to the missing persons among their own ranks.

In case you missed it, Sarah Palin has an Internet “channel” where subscribers can pay $9.95 a month to get her stream of unconsciousness meanderings on the issues of the day. The website, which launched just six months ago, tantalizes prospective fans with the promise that you can…

Connect with me every day here in my home in Alaska and on the road in our great country! Ask me anything. Every week I answer your questions. Plus, be the first to see my ideas for America and my take on the big issues of our time.”

Where's Sarah Palin?

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The only problem is that she has not updated the site with any new content for the past ten days. Subscribers might be wondering just what they are paying for right about now. Her last post was on February 5 and addressed the “big issue of our time” of how the ultra-affluent attendees of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland arrived in private jets. Oh my. For some reason Palin is disparaging the one-percenters (aka business leaders, aka job creators) for enjoying the lifestyle that God intended for them to have by virtue of their ability to create wealth.

Ever since that post her site has been silent. However, we ought not to jump to conclusions because in early January there was a similar ten day absence of Palin’s unique vision of America’s condition. So in the first two months of 2015 Palin has already shorted her subscribers at least 33% each month. Will they get a refund? Or did the Quitta From Wassila just quit again while her fans continue to get charges automatically applied to their credit cards?

Perhaps Palin was just too busy to post because of her other responsibilities making an ass of herself at campaign stops in Iowa, where even conservative allies were shocked by her embarrassing performance. Or maybe the obligation to record more lame video selfies for an audience that had already shelled over their moola was less of a priority than her paid pandering to Big Oil at a conference in Houston, Texas. Palin promoted her appearance at the North American Prospect Expo on her Facebook page saying that…

“There’s reason for great hope that American-made oil and gas supplies can energize our nation, making reliance on foreign energy sold to us by unfriendliness a thing of the past. Bottom line: drill, baby, drill works.”

“Sold to us by unfriendliness?” That’s the sort of brilliance for which organizations fork over thousands of dollars a pop for Palin’s word-salad soliloquies. Her speech focused on bragging that her bumper-sticker theory of economics, “drill baby drill,” was responsible for lowering the price of gas. Of course she ignored all of the real reasons that include declining demand, increased adoption of fuel-efficient vehicles and alternative energy, and the world oil markets that are dominated by OPEC.

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

What this proves is that Palin is still the grifter that she has always been. Her primary motivation is to promote and enrich herself at the expense of all the little people (or giant corporations) who are too dumb to recognize a scam when it is bleeding them dry. While Glenn Beck is a notoriously paranoid conspiracy theorist and wannabe evangelist, at least he gives his suckers new material to chew on every day via his radio program and Internet sites. Palin simply takes their cash and jets off to a highly paid speaking engagement with contact riders that demand first-class travel and lodgings. But I’m sure her fans and benefactors are getting their money’s worth, so long as their expectations are as low as her ability to deliver.


Wingnuts Pan Obama’s Funny Video As Undignified, Praise Netanyahu’s As Delightful

There is something about the modern conservative establishment that fosters a deep infatuation with foreign leaders. Whether it be Vladimir Putin or King Abdullah or, most recently, Benjamin Netanyahu.

Konservative Komedy

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This fascination with tyrants and other non-American heads of state is decidedly unpatriotic. And coming from these Tea party, Republican, nationalist zealots, it is also extraordinarily hypocritical.

This week President Obama and Buzzfeed produced and released a short video to alert citizens that the open enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare) would end on February 15, and that anyone interested in acquiring health insurance would need to to do so before then. The video was a humorous affair that sought to inform without banging people over the head with a rhetorical sledgehammer.

The reaction from the rightist killjoys was not dissimilar to that of radical Islamists who would stone people for the sin of dancing. How dare the President lower himself to expressing humor in order to give out useful information. Obviously he’s the Anti-Christ. This is identical to the response by tight-assed GOP’ers to the President’s appearance on Zach Galifianakis’ “Between Two Ferns,” and his interviews with three YouTube celebs. Some of the criticisms include

  • Brain Kilmeade, Fox News: Bad message to friends in peril & heartening to our enemies.
  • Jim Geraghty, National Review: We’re not living in silly times, but we have a silly president.
  • Marc Thiessen, Washington Post: What president says YOLO [You only live once]? It’s just not funny.
  • Michelle Malkin: America’s commander-in-chief is goofing off w/Buzzfeed while the world burns.
  • Elisabeth Hasselbeck, Fox News: On the very day Kayla Mueller is confirmed to be dead at the hands of terrorism, how does our president respond? “YOLO.”

And you wonder why there aren’t any conservative comedians? Maybe because they don’t have the slightest hint of a sense of humor. Maybe because they can watch that video and conclude that it is “heartening to our enemies.” And maybe because what they actually do regard as funny is Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu pretending to be a “Bibisitter,” in a campaign ad. The reaction to Netanyahu’s fairly lame ad by right-wing aficionados of funny included:

  • KT McFarland, Fox News: Whoever said Bibi netanyahu doesn’t have sense of humor? Watch the Bibisitter campaign add – it’s hilarious!!
  • Laura Ingraham, Fox News: Hilarious Benjamin Netanyahu Election Campaign Advertisement.
  • National Review: Bibi Sitter: Benjamin Netanyahu’s new campaign commercial. Very funny.

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

No one can argue that the world around Israel is less embroiled in hostilities than the United States. The Middle Eastern nation is surrounded by enemies devoted to their destruction. Yet somehow it’s OK, even hilarious, for Netanyahu to make “funny” videos to promote himself during a reelection campaign despite the turmoil his nation faces. But if Obama makes a funny video to help, not himself, but others who will benefit from having health insurance, he is an ogre who spits on the graves of murdered hostages.

There is an Olympian heap of irony in the fact that conservatives spent years pushing the insane conspiracy theory that Obama was not born in this country, but at the same time they openly yearn for foreigners, some of them unabashed dictators, to take control of America. And yet they still regard themselves as patriots as they feverishly insult our democracy, our President, and the majority of Americans who voted for him twice.