Trump’s State Department is Granting Hundreds of Visas for Russian Spies

Friday morning Donald Trump met with Russia’s president Vladimir Putin. This is either their first meeting or their fifteenth, depending on which statement by Trump you choose to believe. In any case, according to the White House, Trump went into the meeting with no agenda. He told reporters that he was honored to meet Putin. That’s a pretty cavalier attitude toward encountering the man who everyone in the U.S. intelligence community says interfered with our election last year.

Donald Trump Vladimir Putin

Trump obviously doesn’t care about the election hacking issue. He still insists that “nobody knows for sure” that the Russians were responsible. That opinion is not only dangerously misguided, it is an insult to America’s national security professionals. It also conveniently lets the guy who helped him get elected off the hook. However, it is not the only threat to which Trump is exposing the nation. CNN is reporting that Russian spies are pouring into the country courtesy of Trump’s State Department:

“Since the November election, US intelligence and law enforcement agencies have detected an increase in suspected Russian intelligence officers entering the US under the guise of other business, according to multiple current and former senior US intelligence officials. The Russians are believed to now have nearly 150 suspected intelligence operatives in the US, these sources said. Officials who spoke to CNN say the Russians are replenishing their ranks after the US in December expelled 35 Russian diplomats suspected of spying in retaliation for election-meddling.”

Those 35 diplomats were expelled by President Obama in response to the Russian hacking. It was just one of the actions taken despite Trump having said that Obama had done nothing. But now that Trump’s team is in place they are readmitting suspicious characters. These are potential operatives who could ramp up election tampering activities for 2018 and 2020. And American intelligence officials are worried about just that:

“Fueling law enforcement officials’ concern is that the Russians are targeting people in the US who can provide access to classified information, in addition to ongoing efforts to hack the US government for intelligence, according to several of the officials. In some cases, Russian spies have tried to gain employment at places with sensitive information as part of their intelligence-gathering efforts, the sources say. But that hasn’t stopped the State Department from issuing the temporary duty visas.”

Reports coming out of Trump’s meeting with Putin indicate that he was less than eager to hold the Russian’s accountable. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that the focus was on moving forward. That must have pleased Putin immensely. I’m sure he’d like to get on with his plans to hack future American elections. And now, thanks to Trump, he’ll have an army of spies in the country to help achieve his goals.

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

Find us on Google+
Advertisement:

Modern Day Presidential? Trump Attacks American Institutions and Leaders While on Foreign Soil

Donald Trump’s first trip overseas last May was widely viewed as a diplomatic failure. When he wasn’t embarrassing the United States with his ignorance and bluster, he was insulting its closest allies. So the world is holding its collective breath as Trump once again ventures beyond the shores of America. And if his first day in Poland is any guide, this trip signals an even worse outcome.

Donald Trump

There is a long-held canon of international diplomacy meant to encourage national unity and continuity of purpose. It asserts that all domestic political quibbles and criticisms should end at the ocean’s edge. American leaders representing the country ought not to be bad-mouthing it on foreign soil. It’s a simple rule, and one that is easy and wise to follow. Unless, of course, you’re Donald Trump.

In his first stop, Trump held a joint press conference with Poland’s President Duda. [For the record, Trump has not held a solo press conference since February] The President took only two questions from American reporters. The first came from David Martosko of the Daily Mail. He asked about both North Korea and Trump’s WWE-themed tweet wherein he body-slammed a CNN character. Trump chose to respond to the CNN question at length, with an afterthought about North Korea. He said:

“I think what CNN did was unfortunate for them. As you know now, they have some pretty serious problems. They have been fake news for a long time. They have been covering me in a very, very dishonest way. NBC is equally as bad, despite the fact that I made them a fortune with The Apprentice. But they forgot that”

So while standing next to one of Europe’s worst media suppressors, Trump bashed the American media and the concept of free press. It was an unprecedented assault by a traveling president. Trump seems to think that generating income for an entertainment division of a media company entitles him to positive coverage by the news division. But the larger problem is that his rhetoric can only encourage other countries to demean and dismiss their local journalists.

The next question came from Hallie Jackson of MSNBC. She asked if he would “once and for all, yes or no, definitively say that Russia interfered in the 2016 election?” He would not. Trump gave a rambling response that avoided directly acknowledging Russia’s complicity in the election tampering:

“Well, I think it was Russia, but it could’ve been other people and other countries. It could have been a lot of people interfered. I’ve said it very simply. It could very well have been Russia, but I think it could well have been other countries. I won’t be specific. But I think a lot of people interfere. I think it’s been happening for a long time. It’s been happening for many, many years.”

Jackson’s follow up asked Trump why he could not just agree with his intelligence agencies who have definitively identified Russia as the culprit. He proceeded to ramble some more:

“Let me just start off by saying, I heard it was seventeen agencies. I said, “boy, that’s a lot. Do we even have that many intelligence agencies?” Right? Let’s check it. And we did some heavy research. It turned out to be three or four. It wasn’t seventeen. […] With that being said, mistakes have been made, I agree. I think it was Russia, but I think it was probably other people and/or countries. And I see nothing wrong with that statement. Nobody really knows for sure.”

And with that, Trump commenced maligning his own intelligence operations. He brought up the issue of weapons of mass destruction as an example of an intelligence failure. However, that was a failure of the Bush White House. The intelligence community did not support their WMD allegations.

What’s more, Trump’s assertion that seventeen agencies were not in agreement about Russia is just plain false. While only three agencies (the CIA, FBI, and NSA) were involved in making the assessment, none of the others dissented after the report was published. And by questioning whether there are seventeen agencies he is publicly exposing his ignorance of the intelligence community he is supposed to be leading. Trump’s dismissal of these agencies is another example of improperly criticizing the country while he’s abroad. What sort of confidence does that give to other countries when we ask for their support based on our intelligence?

Finally, in response to the questions about Russia’s election tampering, Trump felt the need for a diversion. He awkwardly shifted the conversation away from both himself and Russia with this nearly incoherent rant:

“Now the thing I have to mention is that Barack Obama, when he was president, found out about this – in terms of if it were Russia – found out about it in August. Now, the election was in November. That’s a lot of time. He did nothing about it. Why did he do nothing about it? He was told it was Russia by the CIA, as I understand it. it was well reported. And he did nothing about it. […] My big question is ‘Why did Obama do nothing about it from August all the way to November.'”

That’s his big question? Not what the hell is Russia doing interfering with our elections? First of all, Trump is once again wrong on the facts. President Obama took swift and decisive action when informed of the Russian hacking. He opened an investigation and encouraged state election officials to tighten their digital security. He was especially cautious before election day because he didn’t want to be seen as interfering with the election himself. And immediately following the election he imposed new sanctions, threw out 35 Russian officials, and closed down two diplomatic compounds.

So after bashing American media and intelligence, Trump has now moved on to American leaders. By showing such open disdain for the just-past president, Trump is giving permission for our allies and enemies to do the same for any national leader. They are now free to disregard the words and deeds of any representative of the United States, including Trump.

So much for leaving criticism at the ocean’s edge. Trump is demonstrating that he is incapable of behaving appropriately as president. He is more worried about defending his fragile ego than he is about serving the interests of the nation. His lack of diplomatic skills is likely to produce some unwanted consequences. And he has already proven that he is untrustworthy with confidential information. That’s why so many people are so anxious every time he meets with foreign dignitaries, whether at home or abroad. The country would be a lot better off if he would just stay at his golf resorts and leave governing to the adults.

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


Suck It Trump: New Poll Shows Americans Trust CNN/NY Times More Than Lyin’ Donald

Last week Donald Trump tweeted a hostile and childish video showing him body-slamming a CNN character. It was universally condemned as an incitement to violence against journalists. That is, of course, consistent with Trump’s well known animosity for the free press which he demeans at every opportunity.

Donald Trump

However, Trump’s relentless campaign to slander the press does not seem to be persuading anyone but his glassy-eyed disciples. Despite his attempts to brand the New York Times as “failing,” or CNN as “fake news,” the American people are still more inclined to trust the media than the President. This is borne out in a new poll by Survey Monkey. As reported by Axios:

“Among all adults, trust for CNN is 7 points ahead of Trump. Among independents, CNN wins by 15 points. […] Asked whether they trust Trump or the WashPost/NYT more, the newspapers won by 9 points among all adults. Asked about Trump vs. ABC/CBS/NBC, the networks were judged more trustworthy by an 11-point margin.”

So Trump loses to every media entity he was paired against. Whether it is his mortal enemy CNN, the nationally circulated newspapers, or all of the TV broadcast news networks. His furious efforts to vilify the great American institution of journalism has proved totally futile. The only thing he has achieved is making ill-informed wingnuts even more unhinged and unbearable. They’re the only ones who bought into his malicious rhetoric, but they never trusted the media to begin with.

The poll also asked respondents about their news viewing preferences. Not surprisingly, thirty-three percent of Republicans said that they get their news only from Fox News. That’s not “mostly” from Fox News. It’s “ONLY!” A full third of Republicans do not use any other source for news. That explains why so much of the party clings so tightly to easily debunked falsehoods. They believe that Trump had nothing to do with the Russians. They are convinced that a failing economy was rescued by Trump. Many still think that Obama was not born in the United States. They regard whatever they see on Fox News as gospel, and Fox is the PR division of the Trump administration.

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

This poll is not the first time that Trump lost to his media foes. In February, the Quinnipiac poll asked “Who do you trust more to tell you the truth about important issues: President Trump or the news media?” Voters chose the media by a margin of 52 percent to 37 percent. Now, five months later, after five more months of lambasting by Trump, he’s still trusted less than the media he detests. That’s gotta be painful – if his handlers allow him access to that information. And since it won’t be reported on Fox News, he might never know the truth.


A Republican Appeal for ‘ObamaCare Horror Stories’ Backfires Spectacularly

Donald Trump and the Republican-controlled Congress are continuing their efforts to kill ObamaCare. Never mind that that their proposed replacement is overwhelmingly opposed by the American people. In recent polls its support has languished in the teens. You have to wonder why a party would fight so hard for something so unpopular. Well, actually, you don’t have to wonder. It’s because they are committed to giving millionaires tax cuts, denying hard-working Americans basic human rights, and erasing President Obama’s legacy.

Medicare For All

Republicans have been unable to pass their TrumpCare legislation despite having majorities in both houses. The Senate Republican Leader, Mitch McConnell promised to bring it to the floor for a vote before July fourth. However, he couldn’t get his own party to support the bill so he postponed the vote indefinitely. Now he is engaged in backroom horse-trading (i.e. bribery) to try to get some members to flip.

In the meantime, the GOP PR machine is reaching out to improve the awful perception of their healthcare agenda. In Indiana, the home state of Vice-President Mike Pence, the party posted a request on Facebook for public feedback. Here is what they asked in a brazenly leading question:

“We were promised Obamacare would make healthcare cheaper, better, and more available, but in reality it’s turned out to be the opposite. What’s your Obamacare horror story? Let us know.”

Unfortunately for them, what they got was surely not what they hoped for. Hoosiers were appalled at the prospect of losing the Affordable Care Act. They were equally disturbed by the GOP bills currently circulating around Congress. And more than 7,000 of them made their opinions abundantly clear. Here are some select examples of the replies:

  • I saved over $100/month on individual coverage through the marketplace, for the exact same coverage from the exact same insurer! The horror!
  • Being able to afford to buy insurance through a market rather than having to rely on employer-provided insurance allowed my best friend to leave her job and start her own business.
  • My kids have a genetic illness. After the ACA was passed, we felt relieved that they would never be denied coverage. And there is no worry of a lifetime cap on their care. Thanks Obamacare!
  • I lost my job and found out I had skin cancer 2 weeks later. If it weren’t for Obamacare, I wouldn’t have been eligible for another insurance plan because I would have had a major preexisting condition. I was able to go on to the open market place and select an affordable option that covered the bulk of my treatments. I’m now cancer-free and didn’t have to lose everything to pay for chemo. Thanks Obamacare for being there exactly when I needed it!
  • The “horror” is that Republicans would take it away without a decent replacement. Or replace it with a giant tax cut to the wealthy instead of actual…ya know…health care.
  • No horror story about ACA. The real horror is a bunch of white guys making decisions about women’s health and bodies.
  • I am a single mom of two young children. Before IN joined the ACA, I was denied health coverage. Thanks to Obamacare my children and I both have healthcare while I’m back in school pursuing my nursing degree. Thank you Obama!
  • Prior to the ACA (Obamacare) I was denied coverage for my pregnancy because it was considered a pre-existing condition. I then went on state funded Medicaid because it was he only available option, besides going bankrupt.
  • Obamacare makes my dad able to obtain insurance with a preexisting and covers his $15k/month medication. Thank you, Obama, for giving my dad years on his life!
  • I’m a pastor here in Indiana, and Obamacare has been wonderful for some of the people in my congregation. Thanks to Obamacare, they now have affordable health insurance for the first time.
  • My premiums went down in 2017 under the ACA. My daughter had her gall bladder removed in January that left a bill totaling $93,000.00 but under the ACA my bill was $ 2000. I love my ACA. Stop lying.
  • My son was dx with leukemia at 5 months old. Thanks to ACA he can not be denied health coverage. The horror
  • My mom is fighting cancer because of the ACA. So your party of “pro life” and “family values” can shut the hell up. You don’t care about us. You care about tax cuts for the billionaires.

Will the Republicans pushing for their cruel and greedy alternative to ObamaCare be moved by these comments? It’s impossible to tell from this Facebook post. The party has not responded to any of the comments. But there are some diehard, Fox News infected, Trump disciples out there making irrational contributions to the debate. One found it “Interesting reading all the Soros-hired leftwing shills and their fake posts.” Right. George Soros hired more than 7,000 people to post unique and moving appeals to retain and improve ObamaCare.

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

That’s the sort of lunacy that we have to contend with in order to preserve the first national healthcare plan the United States ever had. It’s indicative of a deeply deranged segment of the population that regards anything they don’t like as “fake.” The good news is that mental health care is covered under ObamaCare. So these poor souls may be able to get the help they desperately need. That’s is, if they don’t succeed in killing it.


WT-Holy-F? Trump Tweets an Evangelical Choir’s MAGA Tribute to Himself for Independence Day

It’s amazing how Donald Trump can do so many shockingly idiotic things, but he still manages to shock with his next bit of idiocy. When will it end?

Donald Trump Messiah

On Independence Day, Trump tweeted a video (see below) of a massive church choir singing a new hymn based on his campaign slogan “Make America Great Again.” The audacity of this narcissistic jackass exalting himself on a day meant to celebrate the freedom and liberty of the nation is beyond belief. He really thinks he is the manifestation of god on Earth, and his whack-job followers agree.

The orchestra and choir performing the hymn is from the Texas megachurch, First Baptist Dallas. It’s pastor, Robert Jeffress, is an evangelical leader and an early supporter of Trump. However, other Christian leaders have criticized the new hymn. Jonathan Aigner, Director of Music Ministries in a PCUSA congregation, said that:

“Pledging allegiance to God and to America in the same breath, melding together the kingdom of God and self, they pray a blasphemous prayer to a red, white, and blue Jesus.”

It’s fairly obvious that raising Trump to the level of a messiah would be considered sacrilegious to most pious Christians. Since I’m not one, I really don’t care. But by making this his Fourth of July tweet, Trump is venerating himself at the expense the country. He is placing his own glory above that of America’s founders, heroes, and citizens, who truly make this country great. How can he be so egotistical and tone-deaf? And how can his followers not be offended?

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: Making America Independent of Freedom and Liberty

It’s the Fourth of July and millions of Americans will be celebrating by barbecuing burgers and knocking back brews. It’s the American way. Too few of them will actually be paying tribute to the principles represented by this national anniversary. That’s OK. The country needs time to kick back and enjoy a summer day with family and friends.

Donald Trump

What is not OK is the state of one of the nation’s most prominent political parties. Led by the current resident of the White House, Donald Trump, the Republican Party is deeply troubled. It is exhibiting signs of having abandoned the fundamental canons of liberty. And the voters identifying with it seem to have sold their souls to defend indefensibly un-American behaviors.

Trump’s animosity toward the free press is just one example of a deteriorating brand of patriotism. Add to that his aversion to any form of dissent. He regards all criticism as the conspiratorial plots of political foes and fake news. And efforts by Republicans to make it more difficult for citizens to vote recalls a dark time in America’s past.

These disturbing trends advanced by Trump’s GOP are sadly reflected in the rank and file of the party. A new Marist poll conducted for NPR and the PBS NewsHour tells the story. It reveals just how much of America’s liberties Republicans are willing to surrender to blind partisanship. Much of the poll was devoted to the decline of civility in political discourse, and that’s bad enough by itself. The poll found that “Seven in 10 Americans say the level of civility in Washington has gotten worse since President Trump was elected.” That is surely influenced by the flagrantly uncivil and decidedly unpresidential demeanor of Trump.

However, the poll also addressed some attitudes that are integral to the American experience we honor today. And the results are cause for concern. For instance, forty-two percent of Republicans think that freedom of the press has been expanded too much. That’s the freedom that’s established in the very first amendment to the Constitution which says that it shall not be abridged. And a huge chunk of Republicans think there’s too much of it.

And that’s not all. Forty-one percent of Republicans think the right to protest or criticize the government has been expanded too much. That’s also protected by the First Amendment as the “redress of grievances.” A smaller, but still significant, segment of the GOP (25%) thinks that the right to vote has been expanded too much. Because why would anyone want to protect the essential activity that allows citizens to participate in a democracy?

Fox News featured a part of this poll that asked respondents about the people and institutions they trust. On Fox and Friends they displayed a graphic showing that Trump is trusted by thirty-seven percent, but the media is only trusted by thirty percent. They portrayed this a win for Trump despite the fact that it means sixty-one percent don’t trust the President. That’s a substantial majority and is usually not a number to be proud of.

Fox News

What’s more, the “Trump vs. the media” comparison by Fox News is deliberately misleading. The sixty-one percent who don’t trust Trump represents the total number of people holding that view. But the sixty-eight percent who don’t trust the media includes eighty-one percent of Republicans who think it’s too liberal, plus forty-two percent of Democrats who think it’s too conservative. There’s a bipartisan lack of trust for opposite reasons. So, contrary to Fox’s dishonest spin, it isn’t a referendum on the so-called anti-Trump fake news. When a poll actually did compare Trump to the media, the media won by a landslide.

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

It’s unfortunate that so many Americans will be spending this day celebrating their own prejudices. They don’t understand the Constitution or what American freedom entails. They embrace Trump’s hostile rhetoric and his agenda of division. It’s the antithesis of liberty. But the good news is that this country was founded on ideals that can withstand the animus and ambition of wannabe dictators. We just have to be vigilant and willing to defend those ideals. So Happy Independence Day, America. Let’s keep it that way.

Find us on Google+
Advertisement:

John Oliver’s Hilarious and Frightening Warning About the Next (and Worse) Fox News

On Sunday night John Oliver wrapped up his season with another of his brilliant TV essays. The subject of this one addressed a topic that is currently swirling around the news cycle. Donald Trump’s furious hatred of the media and the free press spiked to new heights this weekend. His repulsive WWE themed tweet is a thinly disguised incitement to violence against journalists. And he is continuing his attacks on what he calls “fake news,” but is really just any news that doesn’t worship him sufficiently.

John Oliver

Trump’s anti-media crusade has been laser-focused on CNN lately. But his broader targets include MSNBC, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and virtually everything other than Fox News. However, John Oliver’s show did some deep digging (video below) on an under-the-radar media company that may be even more of a threat to ethical journalism than Fox News.

Oliver’s research found that the Sinclair Broadcast Group produces flagrantly conservative opinion segments for their affiliate stations. No other station group does this. They include commentaries by their chief political analyst, Boris Epshteyn. After advising Donald Trump’s campaign, Epshteyn served as the White House assistant communications director for surrogate operations. He resigned after repeated complaints about his “terrorizing” his media hosts and colleagues. So Sinclair snapped him up.

Oliver tagged the growing Sinclair empire as “The most influential media company you’ve never heard of.” And with its recent $4 billion bid to acquire the Tribune Company’s stations, it will become even more influential. And that’s a big problem. Because, while Fox News is known to be a purveyor of rabidly right-wing bullpucky, viewers are not as well informed about Sinclair’s biases. But Sinclair’s relative anonymity doesn’t make it less dangerous. As Oliver observed:

“We did some math and we found out that when you combine the most watched nightly newscasts on Sinclair and Tribune stations in some of their largest markets, you get an average total viewership of 2.2 million households. And that is a lot. It’s more than any current primetime show on Fox News. Including ‘Five Idiots Have the Most Intolerable Dinner Party Ever,’ and ‘That Guy From College Everyone Hated Has a Talk Show Now, with Tucker Carlson.'” […]

“If the opinions were confined just to the commentary or to the ad breaks that would be one thing. But Sinclair can sometimes dictate the content of your local newscast as well. And in contrast to Fox News – a clearly conservative outlet where you basically know what you’re getting – with Sinclair they’re injecting Fox-worthy content into the mouths of your local news anchors.”

The most disturbing part of this is that, as Oliver notes, “You might not even know this is happening.” That’s because the local anchors are required to read introductions to these segments written by the propagandists at Sinclair headquarters. They are distributed to the stations as “must runs,” so your local news editors have no editorial control. Consequently, your friendly neighborhood TV anchor is feeding you pre-chewed conservative BS without disclosing it.

At the end of Oliver’s program he introduced a sort of public service video. He suggested that it be used by Tribune stations to alert their viewers of the changes to expect after the pending acquisition by Sinclair. It features Steve Schirripa of the Sopranos. He delivers a hysterical, obscenity-laced disclosure that Sinclair’s ultra-biased clips were not not produced by the local station. “Because the people at this station know,” Schirripa says, “that local news should never be about cheap scaremongering or advancing a political agenda.” He closes saying that “If this becomes a Sinclair station, good luck with that shit.”

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

Watch John Oliver’s program here:


Trump’s Disgraceful ‘Freedom Celebration’ Speech Just Exalts Himself, Whines About the Media

Saturday night Donald Trump took a little time away from lounging at his luxurious golf resort in New Jersey. He flew back to Washington to attend an evangelical concert that supposedly honored veterans in advance of Independence Day.

Donald Trump

As with almost every public appearance he makes, it ends up being entirely about him. He obviously doesn’t care about veterans or the anniversary of America’s founding. If he did, he wouldn’t pollute his speech with self-serving, ego-gratifying bullshit like this (video below):

“The fake media is trying to silence us, but we will not let them. Because the people know the truth. The fake media tried to stop us from going to the White House, but I’m president and they’re not. We won and they lost.

The fact is the press has destroyed themselves because they went too far. Instead of being subtle and smart, they used the hatchet and the people saw it right from the beginning. The dishonest media will never keep us from accomplishing our objectives on behalf of the great American people. Will never happen. Their agenda is not your agenda.”

That’s right. In an address intended to celebrate freedom and commemorate the heroes that make it possible, Trump lashed out again at the media. That’s what he considers to be the real “enemy of the American people.” And the context of his attack is, once again, the results of an election that took place eight months ago. His rabid fetish over having lost the popular vote is weighing on him still. And his obsession with blaming the press for all of his own self-destructive behavior persists.

Trump’s preoccupation with these complaints borders on the psychotic. He simply can’t let them go, even at the expense of tributes to heroes. And he wastes time and taxpayer money attending these self-congratulatory rallies because that’s where he gets his validation. These are nothing but political events designed to prop up Trump’s fragile ego.

There has never been a president who was more contemptuous of the press. His words and deeds are explicit incitement to violence. He doesn’t understand the meaning or value of the First Amendment. Otherwise, how could he repeatedly denigrate journalists as “sleazy,” “liars,” and “horrible human beings”? His provocations have resulted in actual physical attacks on reporters. NBC’s Katy Tur had to have security protect her while covering his campaign. Organizations that advance the welfare of journalists have called him “an unprecedented threat” to press freedom. And nothing proves that more than his latest tweet that overtly celebrates violence against the media.

If you thought that Trump had crossed the line before, you underestimated the depth of his hostility and recklessness. This is his juvenile idea of a joke, but it conveys a distinct and abhorrent message. There is no reason to think that he won’t continue to get worse. He wants to discredit and dismantle the media so that he can rule without criticism or accountability. Under his idea of authoritarian leadership there would be only state-run media. All Americans must unite to make sure that he is not successful. It’s a fight that is as consequential as the one for Independence that is being celebrated this week.

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


Fox News Posts a Dishonest and Racist Attack on President Obama for Taking a Vacation

For eight long years Fox News was the central bureau for inventing and broadcasting lies about President Obama. Their pseudo-news coverage included allegations that Obama was a secret Muslim who was born in Kenya. They called him a radical, racist, anti-American who was too incompetent to be president. And even though he has been out of office for six months, they still persist in their campaign of contempt.

Fox News Obama Luxury

The Fox News website posted an article last week with the provocative headline “Obamas under fire from the left for never ending, sizzling ultra-luxury vacations.” However, nothing in that tabloid-style headline was true or supported by the content of the article. The whole thing was one of the worst examples of deliberate slander by a network that has specialized in it. The opening paragraphs said that:

“The Democratic base is growing increasingly frustrated with former President Barack Obama’s actions after leaving office, including a seemingly endless tour of millionaire and billionaire luxury retreats, according to Democrats and activists contacted by Fox News. Ex-presidents, understandably and un-controversially, go on vacations immediately after leaving office. But the level of luxury the Obamas enjoy on their vacations is unprecedented for a modern-day president, say travel experts.”

“Since leaving office in late January, Obama has visited late actor Marlon Brando’s private island; the Four Seasons in Bali — where rooms cost upward of $2,000 per night; a Palm Springs estate; Sir Richard Branson’s Necker Island; the exclusive Mid Pacific Country Club in Oahu; the 13th-century Borgo Finocchieto in Tuscany; and the Rising Sun, Hollywood studio mogul David Geffen’s private yacht.”

Many of the destinations mentioned belong to Obama’s friends and associates (Branson, Geffen, and former Ambassador to Italy John Phillips). These were not strictly stays at luxury resorts as much as they were visits with friends. But even if they were conventional vacations, so what? Obama has earned the right to spend his leisure time any way he pleases. It’s his time and his money. The hypocrisy of Fox News to make an issue of this is astonishing. Particularly since they have remained silent about Donald Trump’s lavish expenditures at his luxury golf resorts on the American taxpayer’s dime.

In addition to that made-up non-scandal, Fox News portrayed Obama’s critics as disappointed liberals. However, they failed to document that claim in the article. The only quotes used were conspicuously irrelevant. They included a travel agent of unknown political affiliation, and a socialist from Houston. Even worse, they described the rabidly right-wing Fox News contributor Pat Caddell as a “Democratic strategist.” Caddell pretended to worry that Obama’s trips would offend the Bernie Sanders wing of the party. Fox didn’t bother to ask Bernie Sanders.

The only other citation was one from comedian John Oliver. Fox News used him to assert that “The left-wing media is also worried about Obama’s luxury vacations.” While Oliver did joke about Obama kite-surfing while “America is on fire,” it was at worst gentle mockery. And in any case, it was hardly representative of left-wing media. Fox News offered no examples at all of actual media criticisms of any kind from any source.

To their credit, Fox did include a statement from an anonymous source (really?) defending Obama. What they described only as “a former Obama White House official” gave a brief accounting of Obama’s post-presidency activities:

“One of the first actions after leaving office was to mentor young men from Chicago’s south side who are in a job training program called ‘CRED,’ led by former Education Secretary Arne Duncan. The president also donated $2 million recently to help young people in Chicago get apprenticeships and summer jobs. The president is an avid supporter of the My Brother’s Keeper initiative that aims to improve life outcomes for young men of color.”

That was uncharacteristically fair of Fox. But then they immediately returned to Pat Caddell who declared that “it wasn’t enough.” Caddell went on to ask “When is he going to do anything to help people other than enrich himself?” Of course, that questioned was answered in the prior paragraph. Obama has done many more things that also went unmentioned. And he hasn’t been absent from the political stage either. On his Facebook page he made an in-depth statement about the still pending healthcare debate, saying in part:

“The Senate bill, unveiled today, is not a health care bill. It’s a massive transfer of wealth from middle-class and poor families to the richest people in America. It hands enormous tax cuts to the rich and to the drug and insurance industries, paid for by cutting health care for everybody else. […] Simply put, if there’s a chance you might get sick, get old, or start a family – this bill will do you harm. And small tweaks over the course of the next couple weeks, under the guise of making these bills easier to stomach, cannot change the fundamental meanness at the core of this legislation.”

Obama also made his position on immigration clear through his spokesperson. “The President fundamentally disagrees,” he said, “with the notion of discriminating against individuals because of their faith or religion.”

The article made a ludicrous comparison between Obama’s post-presidency and that of Carter and the Bushes. But all of them were wealthy before they moved into the White House. This is Obama’s first opportunity to enjoy his good fortune as a private citizen. There is a distinct note of racism in Fox’s attack that suggests that this sort of activity is undeserved for the black guy. They never offered any such criticism of presidents Carter, Reagan, Clinton, or the Bushes. Why is it only Obama who is characterized negatively for hobnobbing with the rich and famous? What exactly is it that makes him different? Can you possibly imagine?

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


Tweetstorming: Donald Trump Remains Manically Obsessed With His War on the Media

Just two days after repulsing the nation with his misogynistic attack on MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski, Donald Trump is at it again. It wasn’t enough to earn the condemnation of both Republicans and Democrats for his juvenile, and possibly unlawful, behavior. Trump appears to have no regrets (or conscience) for his hateful outbursts and, consequently, is resuming them unabated.

Trump Baby

In another of his characteristic displays of dickishness, Trump took to Twitter to escalate his war on the media. It’s a campaign that denigrates the Constitution as it emulates the tactics of tyrants. And proving that he has no sense of shame, he once again unloads on the hosts of Morning Joe:

In Thursday’s tweet, Joe Scarborough was “psycho.” It was Mika who was crazy. But in both tweets Mika’s intelligence was maligned without any examples of her alleged mental deficiencies. Clearly Trump was just throwing another tantrum over having been criticized. His gargantuan ego simply can’t handle it. What’s more, he’s projecting his own stupidity in a pathetic spasm of denial.

And because Trump can’t go two minutes without spewing blatant lies, he again wrote about “their low rated show.” However, Morning Joe is enjoying record high ratings with nine straight quarters of growth. For someone who spent fourteen years on television, he sure doesn’t know anything about the business. Which may explain another of his morning tweets:

This is ignorant on so many levels. First of all, Greta was let go because her show was a complete failure. The program was a virtual sinkhole in the schedule. Based on the performance of the shows before and after, people were obviously changing the channel when it came on and returning when it was over. It was the free market – a concept usually cherished by conservatives – at work. And the notion that her “out of control bosses” fired her for not hating Trump enough is ludicrous. If true, then why have they recently hired or promoted Nicolle Wallace, George Will, Hugh Hewitt, Bret Stephens, and Charlie Sykes, And let’s not forget another Fox News refugee, Megyn Kelly, whose new NBC program is already an epic dud.

The Twitter tantrum continued with a swipe at Trump’s favorite media target, CNN:

This tweet is simply Trump venting his irrational hostilities. CNN has not been exposed as “fake news” by anyone but Trump and his sycophantic minions. As for “garbage Journalism,” that term applies to anything that isn’t sufficiently flattering to Trump. What he regards as legitimate journalism is the National Enquirer and conspiracy crackpot Alex Jones. Trump may be referring to a video by convicted propagandist James O’Keefe. His latest scam featured deceptively edited comments by CNN staffers. But if it proved anything, it’s that CNN has a diverse roster of political opinions and is not the bastion of liberalism that wingnuts like to pretend it is.

The ferocity of Trump’s assault on the media represents a clear and present danger to the free press. His short term goal is to deflect attention from his many policy failures: healthcare, taxes, immigration, etc. But his longer term goal is to denigrate the work of all journalists in order to advance the state as the only “approved” source of information.

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

The reforms he has made to the White House press office are evidence of this. Press Secretary Sean Spicer no longer holds daily televised press briefings. On some occasions reporters aren’t even allowed to make audio recordings. Apparently the administration doesn’t want a record of what the President’s spokesperson says. Which is surprising since Spicer or his alternates often say nothing at all or claim to not know the answers to critical questions. Even worse, the briefings are now attended by the likes of Breitbart News and Alex Jones’ Infowars. If that isn’t proof that they are trying to kill respect for the media, nothing is.