Fox News Freak-Outs: How The Big Bully Of Cable News Fizzles Under Fire

In the cable news business there is one network that relentlessly boasts about its prominence and formidable presence above all others. Fox News is clearly taken with itself and is even promoted in their own ads as “The Most Powerful Name In News.” That makes it all the more curious that Fox seems to shudder when confronted with opposing arguments.

Fox News
This article was also published on Alternet.

Fox News is often the subject of well-deserved criticism due to their aversion to facts and a long record of strident bias. However, their first reaction to reasonable rebuttals is to go on the attack against their perceived enemies. It is behavior reminiscent of schoolyard bullies with marshmallow centers who struggle to mask their hurt feelings with forced bluster. What follows are seven examples of just how thin-skinned this allegedly powerful network really is, and how prone they are to whining when they get smacked down.

At a press conference President Obama astutely noted that the penchant Fox News has for punishing Republicans who dare to work cooperatively with Democrats has the effect of discouraging Republicans from such cooperation. That rather modest observation sent Fox News into a tizzy. Jumping immediately to the most absurd stretches of hyperbole, Steve Doocy of Fox & Friends fired up the outrage machine to accuse the President of attacking, not merely Fox News, but the First Amendment. Meanwhile the determinedly dishonest Fox Nation web site declared the President’s remarks to be a threat. How Obama was infringing on freedom of the press or threatening anyone was never explained.

In an interview Al Gore commented on Fox News and right-wing talk radio saying “The fact that we have 24/7 propaganda masquerading as news, it does have an impact.” Rather than try to dispute the obvious truth of Gore’s comment, Fox’s Peter Johnson, Jr launched into a harangue about Gore permitting a news enterprise based in the oil-producing nation of Qatar to buy his network, Current TV. Yes, that had nothing to do with Gore’s remarks, but it did serve Johnson’s purpose of blindly lashing out at Gore for daring to besmirch Fox.

Author and military foreign policy expert Tom Ricks was invited on to discuss his new book, The Generals. Fox host Jon Scott thought he could get Ricks to join Fox’s crusade to blame Obama for the tragedy in Benghazi, but Ricks wasn’t cooperating and told Scott that “I think that the emphasis on Benghazi has been extremely political, partly because Fox was operating as a wing of the Republican Party.” That was apparently too much for Scott who abruptly ended the interview less than 90 seconds after it began. After taking criticism from other media for that self-serving censorship, Fox VP Michael Clemente doubled down and disparaged Ricks for not having “the strength of character to apologize.”

Greta Van Susteren saw an opportunity to whimper about how mistreated Fox is when she complained that the State Department had left them off the mailing list for a couple of news briefings. She called it “a coordinated effort” to punish Fox by “denying Fox access to information.” What she failed to disclose was that the State Department had previously explained that they had only notified news organizations that had reporters assigned to cover the department and that, having none, Fox didn’t get on the list. But that explanation didn’t stop Van Susteren and others at Fox from assailing the administration for an imagined snubbing.

In a debate over whether or not NBC had ever criticized President Obama on the use of drones, Bill O’Reilly falsely claimed that the drone story never appeared on NBC. In fact, it was NBC who broke the story. The following night, after much ridicule for his egregious mistake, rather than apologize and set the record straight, O’Reilly lashed at the “loons” who were engaging in “more deceit from the far left.” As usual, any critical analysis of O’Reilly or Fox News is viewed as liberal Fox-bashing and is met with name-calling and vilification.

Fox’s Juan Williams is one of the network’s alleged lefties. When he made a disturbingly racist comment about his fear of flying with Muslim passengers, he was let go by his other employer NPR. The reaction from Fox News was swift and utterly repulsive. Fox’s CEO Roger Ailes lashed out in defense of his pet liberal saying of NPR that “They are, of course, Nazis. They have a kind of Nazi attitude. They are the left wing of Nazism.” Most people would regard that as something of an overreaction, but for Fox it is consistent with their characteristic vengefulness when they consider themselves under siege.

Perhaps the most frequent target of Fox’s vitriol is the watchdog group, Media Matters for America. By defining its mission as a monitor of conservative bias in the news, Media Matters has earned the undying enmity of Fox News. In the course of their persistent barrage of slander aimed at Media Matters, Fox has called the founder, David Brock, (without substantiation) a dangerous, self-loathing, mentally ill, drug user. Fox was so frightened by Media Matters that, in the week prior to publication of their book The Fox Effect, Fox News broadcast no fewer than a dozen derogatory pieces in a preemptive strike with segments on their most popular programs, including The O’Reilly Factor, Hannity, Fox & Friends, etc. It was the sort of blanket coverage they usually reserved for a natural disaster, a declaration of war, or a lewd TwitPic of a politician. Fox’s anti-Media Matters campaign even included solicitations on the air (more than 30 times) by Fox anchors beseeching their viewers to file complaints with the IRS challenging Media Matters’ tax-exempt, non-profit status.

These are just a few of the more notable instances when Fox has engaged in pronounced public wailing after taking flack from a critic. But it’s an almost daily occurrence for Fox to slap back at a politician, pundit, or even a celebrity, who utters something that Fox regards as unflattering. Just ask Bill Maher or Nas or Sean Penn. For a network that touts its powerfulness, Fox News behaves with the sort of tender sensitivity that is generally associated with sniveling weakness. They wildly lash out at critics and stubbornly refuse to acknowledge mistakes or accept responsibility when errors are pointed out. It is, to say the least, undignified, unprofessional, and immature, but it is the Fox way.

Al Gore Hurts Fox News’ Feelings, So Fox Bashes Current TV Sale Again

This morning on Fox & Friends, the kindergarten crew welcomed Rupert Murdoch’s personal attorney, Peter Johnson, Jr. (the man with three euphemisms for penis in his name), to engage in yet another round of bashing Al Gore for selling his Current TV network to Al Jazeera.

Fox News

In this episode, Johnson demonstrated an embarrassingly poor ability to make a cogent argument, which should worry his client Rupert who is engaged in numerous legal entanglements related to the News Corp hacking scandal in the UK.

Fox’s Gretchen Carlson introduced the segment with a video clip of Gore commenting on Fox News and right-wing talk radio, saying “The fact that we have 24/7 propaganda masquerading as news, it does have an impact.” It was that swipe at Fox that prompted this rehashing of old news. And rather than try to dispute the obvious truth of Gore’s comment, Johnson launched into his harangue about Gore permitting a news enterprise based in the oil-producing nation of Qatar to buy his network, thus affirming Fox’s status as The Whiniest ‘News’ Network Ever:

Johnson: This is the ultimate Lear Jet liberal who’s lost his mind. He is richer though. They made a half billion dollars on it. And you know the reason he said it’s a good sale? “I’m not gonna sell to Glenn Beck. I’m not gonna sell to American media folks. I am gonna sell to Al Jazeera. You know why? Because they’re the best at discussing climate change.” That’s like saying “I’m gonna sell it to the NRA because they’re the best at discussing gun control.”

Setting aside the fact that Johnson thinks Gore, who just made $100,000,000, has lost his mind, the case he is making defies logic. If it is, as Johnson says, like selling to the NRA who cannot report objectively on guns because they are proponents of guns, then Johnson is asserting that Current cannot sell to Al Jazeera and expect objective reporting on climate change because Al Jazeera is a proponent of climate reform measures. Except that Johnson just got finished criticizing the sale because Al Jazeera’s oil-rich Qatari base would oppose such measures.

So which is it? Is Gore a hypocrite for selling an environmentally conscious network to a bunch of fossil fuel fanatics? Or is he handing off his company to a news outlet that is going to advocate for alternative energy rather than cover the issue objectively? Johnson wants to characterize Al Jazeera as beholden to oil interests and biased against them at the same time. And he has the nerve to say that Gore has lost his mind?

It’s bad enough that Fox News is the public relations arm of the Republican Party. And it’s all the worse that they brazenly lie to fulfill that role. But do they have to be so staggeringly stupid while they’re at it?

Fox News vs. Al-Jazeera: Tales Of Terror And Hypocrisy

The news that Qatar-based Al-Jazeera has agreed to purchase Al Gore’s Current TV has stirred controversy throughout the mediasphere. For the most part the debate has been driven by conservative xenophobes worried that Sharia law would be imposed on American viewers via x-rays emanating from their television screens.

The usual suspects on the right have issued their predictably alarmist warnings about Al-Jazeera plotting to brainwash what they must regard as a gullible American public. Obviously their assessment of gullibility is based on their experience with Fox News viewers. The rest of us are quite capable of discerning fact from fiction and developing informed opinions from diverse news sources. But the censorious right-wingers insist on having only one mindset available to the U.S. television audience.

Fox News - Al-Jazeera

Some of the knee-jerk reactions from conservative critics include Bill O’Reilly saying that “Gore has shamed himself simply by selling to Al-Jazeera.” Frequent Fox News guest Matt McCall saying of Gore that “To me, he’s now associating himself with Al-Qaeda.” Glenn Beck complained that his own sham attempt to bid on Current was dismissed and therefore Gore is un-American. Stuart Varney of Fox News defended Beck by castigating Gore for rejecting Beck but saying “Okay [to] big oil, the sheikhdom of Qatar.” The uber-rightist Media Research Center’s Dan Gainor alleged that “lefties love Al-Jazeera” and then whined that “The purchase is part of a larger trend of foreign media outlets.”

There is a lot there to chew on. First of all, the trend toward foreign ownership of media outlets was never more pronounced than when Rupert Murdoch crossed the Atlantic to launch Fox News. And it is absurd to suggest that Gore is somehow more pro-Big Oil than those at Fox who defend foreign oil corporations while vehemently condemning the development of renewable, domestic energy sources, and disputing the scientific reality of climate change.

Much of the criticism aimed at Gore was directed at his having cashed out to a state-based media enterprise. For some reason these alleged free-market proponents are all of a sudden opposed to a businessman making a profitable deal that will advance economic activity and create jobs. As for the involvement of the nation of Qatar as the financial backer of the new network, these small-minded critics conveniently forget that the second largest shareholder of News Corp, outside of the Murdoch family, is Alwaleed bin Talal, a prince of the Saudi royal family. And therein lies another hypocrisy. The critics complain falsely that Al-Jazeera is aligned with terrorists, but if they are intent on forming ludicrous associations between news networks and terrorism, they might do better to recall that the plotters and hijackers on 9/11, including Osama bin Laden, were from Saudi Arabia, not Qatar.

[Note: Qatar is friendly to the west, is a major supplier of natural gas to the U.S., and has been an ally in American military endeavors including in Libya and Syria, as well as providing bases for the United States Central Command in support of forces in Iraq and Afghanistan]

What’s more, Fox is engaging in their own unique brand of terrorism by literally inciting terror in the minds of their viewers. The demonstrably false allegations that Fox continues to spread about President Obama are designed to create a sense of dread. They have built a fear factory that alleges that Obama is deliberately trying to destroy America on behalf of the extremist Muslims they believe he was invented to represent. They assert that he will become a tyrant who will abolish the Constitution, confiscate guns, criminalize religion, and condemn dissenters to prison camps. It’s a brand of fright-inducing journalism that has the potential to result in actual hostilities. In fact, it already has. (More examples: the murder of Dr. Tiller; the mass shootings at the Wisconsin Sikh Temple; and the Beck-inspired gunman who was apprehended on his way to kill people at the offices of the ACLU and the Tides Foundation).

There has also been a great deal of commentary about the quality of the journalism produced by Al-Jazeera. Most of the conservative echo chamber has trashed the network. But as that haven of Islamic propaganda, the Wall Street Journal, has noted, the network “has gained plaudits for its international coverage.” Indeed, it has won numerous awards, including the prestigious Polk and Peabody awards. They have also been honored by the Foreign Press Association and the International Emmys. Compare that to the recognition received by Fox News from these organizations that judge journalistic excellence – which amounts to zero awards.

In conclusion, Fox News is more closely related to actual terrorists than Al-Jazeera. Fox News is not as highly regarded for their reporting as Al-Jazeera. Fox News is more biased in favor of Big Oil than Al Jazeera. Fox News denigrates successful business transactions more than Al-Jazeera. By virtually every standard that Al-Jazeera’s critics use to disparage the network, Fox News is worse. The one thing that Fox News excels at is distorting these facts, promoting themselves, and slandering their competitors. But I don’t think anyone is giving out awards for that.

Keith Olbermann And Current TV Part Ways: Statements By Current And Olbermann

Current TV’s founders, Al Gore and Joel Hyat, have released a letter to viewers announcing that their relationship with Keith Olbermann has come to a end. This news will be regarded by some as a shock and others as an affirmation of Olbermann’s volatile personality. Either way it is bound to have an impact on the cable news marketplace as the dust settles.

Current has already secured a replacement for Olbermann in former New York governor Eliot Spitzer who will be hosting a new program called “Viewpoint” beginning today. The letter by Gore and Hyatt follows:

To the Viewers of Current:

We created Current to give voice to those Americans who refuse to rely on corporate-controlled media and are seeking an authentic progressive outlet. We are more committed to those goals today than ever before.

Current was also founded on the values of respect, openness, collegiality, and loyalty to our viewers. Unfortunately these values are no longer reflected in our relationship with Keith Olbermann and we have ended it.

We are moving ahead by honoring Current’s values. Current has a fundamental obligation to deliver news programming with a progressive perspective that our viewers can count on being available daily — especially now, during the presidential election campaign. Current exists because our audience desires the kind of perspective, insight and commentary that is not easily found elsewhere in this time of big media consolidation.

As we move toward this summer’s political conventions and the general election in the fall, Current is making significant new additions to our broadcasts. We have just debuted six hours of new programming each weekday with Bill Press (“Full Court Press, at 6 am ET/3 am PT) and Stephanie Miller (“Talking Liberally,” at 9 am ET/6 pm PT).

We’re very excited to announce that beginning tonight, former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer will host “Viewpoint with Eliot Spitzer,” at 8 pm ET/5 pm PT. Eliot is a veteran public servant and an astute observer of the issues of the day. He has important opinions and insights and he relishes the kind of constructive discourse that our viewers will appreciate this election year. We are confident that our viewers will be able to count on Governor Spitzer to deliver critical information on a daily basis.

All of these additions to Current’s lineup are aimed at achieving one simple goal — the goal that has always been central to Current’s mission: To tell stories no one else will tell, to speak truth to power, and to influence the conversation of democracy on behalf of those whose voice is too seldom heard. We, and everyone at Current, want to thank our viewers for their continued steadfast support.

Sincerely,

Al Gore & Joel Hyatt
Current’s Founders

Olbermann’s response indicates that there will be some animosity and litigiousness between the parties before this is over. Here is what Olbermann had to say via extended Twittering:

My full statement:

I’d like to apologize to my viewers and my staff for the failure of Current TV.
Editorially, Countdown had never been better. But for more than a year I have been imploring Al Gore and Joel Hyatt to resolve our issues internally, while I’ve been not publicizing my complaints, and keeping the show alive for the sake of its loyal viewers and even more loyal staff. Nevertheless, Mr. Gore and Mr. Hyatt, instead of abiding by their promises and obligations and investing in a quality news program, finally thought it was more economical to try to get out of my contract.

It goes almost without saying that the claims against me implied in Current’s statement are untrue and will be proved so in the legal actions I will be filing against them presently. To understand Mr. Hyatt’s “values of respect, openness, collegiality and loyalty,” I encourage you to read of a previous occasion Mr. Hyatt found himself in court for having unjustly fired an employee. That employee’s name was Clarence B. Cain. http://nyti.ms/HueZsa

In due course, the truth of the ethics of Mr. Gore and Mr. Hyatt will come out. For now, it is important only to again acknowledge that joining them was a sincere and well-intentioned gesture on my part, but in retrospect a foolish one. That lack of judgment is mine and mine alone, and I apologize again for it.

I can’t begin to speculate as to what the core issues are that lead to this divorce, but there have been prior reports of tensions and Olbermann was frequently absent from the show for the past few months.

What this means for Current is unknown. Olbermann was an enormous force who put the network on the map when he signed up. But now the benefit of that have been realized and it is entirely possible that the remaining personalities can hold their own with viewers. The Young Turks have had their own loyal following since before Cenk Uyger’s promotion to television. And Spitzer and Jennifer Granholm, both ex-governors, have the inherent credibility and respect afforded to executive officeholders. In their new morning lineup Current recently debuted simulcasts of radio talkers Bill Press and Stephanie Miller. So even as Olbermann is fading out, the network is firming up.

In my view, Current’s biggest problem is not talent-related. They need to work their cable affiliates to get better placement on more systems. There are plenty of dynamic liberals who can be called upon for hosting chores, but if the channel is not easily available to viewers it doesn’t do much good.

Keith OlbermannIt will be interesting to see what happens to Olbermann. The publicity surrounding this departure, and his previous breakup with MSNBC, could make him appear to be a risky bet for other broadcasters. I hope that’s not the case. Somewhere there must be a good fit for him (perhaps the Internet), and his voice is well worth hearing. There’s one network where he almost certainly will not be turning up, however, I think it would be a marketing bonanza if the parties had the guts to actually do it. But don’t worry, they won’t.

So as they say in TV Land…stay tuned.

Fox Nation vs. Reality: Al Gore On Capitalism

Not one to miss an opportunity to bash a Democratic leader, Fox Nation posted an item that featured a headline deliberately designed to cast the former vice-president in a negative light: Al Gore Takes Aim At ‘Unsustainable’ Capitalism.

Fox Nation

Followers of the Fox Nation vs. Reality series have probably already guessed that the article that Fox linked to never once cited Al Gore saying that capitalism is “unsustainable.” It also never cited Gore disparaging capitalism. In fact, the Reuters article that the Fox Nationalists referenced quoted Gore saying that…

“While we believe that capitalism is fundamentally superior to any other system for organizing economic activity, it is also clear that some of the ways in which it is now practiced do not incorporate sufficient regard for its impact on people, society and the planet.”

The story was about the launch of an initiative to promote more long-term investing that would have a beneficial impact on business and the economy. The goal was to highlight the changes in the investment world that has seen some mutual funds turn over their entire portfolios in seven months when 20 years ago it took seven years. The short-term investing philosophy is credited with causing higher levels of volatility in the stock market and hampering the sort of real wealth creation that results from committed investors making wise decisions.

In all likelihood the financial analysts that Fox relies on for commentary would agree with Gore, but the Fox Nationalists care more about misleading their audience than reporting the truth. And snipping parts of the announcement out of context in order to imply that Gore hates capitalism is the way Fox keeps their audience so blissfully ignorant.

Glenn Beck’s Youth Bashing Crushed By Van Jones’ Optimism

Glenn Beck has spent much of the past two years dismissing young people as ignorant, brainwashed, and/or “useful idiots.” He regards them as societal appendages whose obligation is to be obedient and silent. Most recently he blamed the uprisings in the Middle East on unruly kids led by Google executives and intent on forming alliances with western leftists and Al Qaeda to invoke Shariah law from Tripoli to Topeka.

Today Beck replayed old clips of Al Gore motivating young environmentalists by telling them that “There are some things about our world that you know that older people don’t know.” That is objectively true for every new generation. If it were not it would mean that civilization is standing still. We are supposed to get smarter as time goes by. Aren’t we?

Not according to Beck. In Beck’s world Gore’s remarks are an appalling affront to parental authority. As is the speech that Van Jones gave at the Power Shift Conference for young leaders this past weekend. Beck played a short video of Jones encouraging members of the audience to be forthright in their advocacy for a clean environment. As usual, Beck cut the video so as to mislead his viewers. What he left was this snippet:

“When you go home, shift the power at the Thanksgiving table. When your Uncle Joe, who loves Fox News, starts talking to you and starts dominating the discussion.”

That’s where Beck cuts it off to insert his response:

“I will tell you this, in a side note. That is why I’m leaving this network. This network has this audience cornered. You are here because it is telling you the truth. We have got to get to the youth.”

First of all, that is not why Beck is leaving the network. He is leaving because he was fired for alienating over 300 advertisers and losing half of the audience. Secondly, Beck doesn’t explain what audience he alleges to have cornered, but presumably it is not the youth audience. In fact, Beck’s viewers, like Fox in general, skew older than any program on cable news. That aside, it is important to hear the rest of Jones’ thoughts to understand the depths of Beck’s intention to deceive. Just following the point where Beck cut the tape:

“When you go home, shift the power at the Thanksgiving table. When your Uncle Joe, who loves Fox News, starts talking to you and starts dominating the discussion, and starts making you feel small, and that your ideas don’t count, and that you’re some kind of bizarre freak, shift the power. Because this movement is not just for Democrats, and it’s not just for lefties. This movement is for everybody. And you have the opportunity to say to your Uncle Joe, ‘Excuse me sir. Don’t you believe in liberty? And if you do, how can you live in a country where every American is forced to be an energy consumer for the rest of our lives?

“Shouldn’t we have the right as Americans to be energy producers?’ Shouldn’t we be able to put up solar panels on our own houses? Shouldn’t we be able to put up wind turbines in our backyards? Shouldn’t we be able, as Americans, to power our own community? Shouldn’t we have the right and the liberty to be energy producers and not be dictated to twelve times a years by energy companies that dictate how much we’re gonna pay for energy, when we’re gonna pay it, how many asthma inhalers we’re gonna have as a consequence? Shouldn’t we have the liberty, as Americans, to power this country in a new way?”

Beck surely knows that the rest of that segment was entirely respectful toward Uncle Joe. He knows that there was no attempt to dishonor the role of parents or elders. He knows this yet he purposefully manipulates the message to cast young people in a negative light. And he has the gall to do this while declaring that he wants to “get to the youth.” That’s a goal he also spoke of in Albany on Saturday, where he said that he planned to build a way to deliver news directly to the youth of America. Does he plan to do that by frightening them as he does his radio and television audiences? Because that won’t work with this demographic. They are far more independent and self-directed. And for all the disrespect that Beck hurls at them, he cannot win them over with lies and fear mongering.

And just for the heck of it, here is Jones’ inspiring conclusion to the speech (which you can watch in full here):

“I love liberty. Given what’s happened with my ancestors, nobody loves liberty more than I do. But the pledge of allegiance doesn’t stop there. The pledge of allegiance says ‘liberty and justice for all.’ ‘Liberty and justice for all.’ And that’s what your movement is about. Liberty, yes, and justice. Justice for the immigrant. Justice for the lesbians and the gays. Justice for the African-Americans. Justice for women. Justice for the rural poor. Justice for the Native Americans. Liberty and justice for all. Shift the power!”

Keith Olbermann Warming Up To Al Gore? [Update] YES!

A press release this afternoon revealed that Keith Olbermann would be announcing his next career move Tuesday morning in a conference call with the press. That release served as the starters pistol for a pack of media dogs to try to figure out what was up before the appointed time.

The New York Times appears to have won the race with a story that quotes anonymous sources saying that Olbermann will announce a pact with Al Gore’s Current TV. The details are sketchy, but they include an on-air presence for MSNBC’s former star attraction, as well as an equity stake in the company.

Current has had trouble getting traction as a network whose brand identity is rather mysterious. The network certainly didn’t take on the role that many had expected when it was first announced that Al Gore was starting a cable channel. Many assumed that it would be a liberal answer to Fox News, but that never transpired. Instead, it attempted to invent a new genre that melded television and the Internet.

This could be an interesting arrangement. If Olbermann is coming aboard to launch a news division (Current Affairs?), he could restore some of the original excitement that buzzed around the network when it launched. It would not have to be a wholesale reorganization. They could just add a couple of personalities and, if I had my way, a media analysis program that reviewed the other broadcast and cable news outfits (Alternating Current?). And there’s a place for comedy as well. Any of these programming options would work within Current’s current ambiguous identity.

Current TV is presently seen in about 65 million U.S. homes. That’s about 20% less than MSNBC. For Olbermann this might look like a step backwards, but for Current it could be the catalyst that would help them break through to the upper tiers of cablecasting. They could leverage his star power to get more carriage and better channel positioning. And Keith would be able to extend his presence to the Internet with a full service news and entertainment site along the lines of the Huffington Post. Speaking of which, now that HuffPo has accepted gobs of cash to be part of a bigger media corporation, the Internet is in need of a new independent source for progressive news. And HuffPo’s sale demonstrates the potential value of the genre.

The Olbermann FactorNeedless to say, this is all wildly speculative. Tomorrow morning’s announcement may surprise everyone and have nothing to do with Current. Or it may involve Current but in ways not expected. We’ll know soon enough. But there is one scenario that I think we can safely rule out. Olbermann will not be returning to Fox. Rupert Murdoch recently said that he doesn’t want to fire him twice. But you really have to question Murdoch’s judgment when it is Olbermann whom he has called “crazy,” not Glenn Beck.

The news is official. Olbermann will be joining Current TV and bringing Countdown with him. In addition to that he will assume the title of Chief News Officer, implying a larger role in the production of news programming for the network. That is what I proposed above and it looks like they took my advice (leave me to my fantasies). Now, hopefully they can put together a compelling schedule and push the network onto more cable systems and into more homes.

The Fox Frame: Seven Dollar Gas

To the surprise of no one, Fox News has been promoting the notion that the rise in gas prices is the fault of Democrats. Neil Cavuto posited that very theory a couple of months ago in a segment subtly titled, “Democrats to Blame for High Gas Prices?” The introduction to the piece referenced the GOP talking point that current rates are the consequence of the “Pelosi Premium.”

$7.00 GasYesterday, the Fox business program “The Cost of Freedom” featured a segment that stretched even further to predict that Al Gore’s endorsement of Barack Obama would send gas prices soaring to seven dollars a gallon. Nothing in the broadcast explained how a political endorsement could have such a profound impact on the price of gas, but a lack of intelligent analysis never stopped Fox before.

In addition to misleading discussions and graphics, the Fox News Ticker often articulates the right-wing view that fuel costs only became a problem with the advent of the Democratic Congress. The problem for Fox is that, despite their best efforts, the availability of facts persists, and they contradict the Fox propaganda. Indeed, gas prices have increased 78% since January 2007, when the new Congress was sworn in. What the Fox Ticker does not tell you is that prices increased 54% from the Bush inauguration until the January 2007, and 174% throughout the Bush administration. Neither does it tell you that Republicans in Congress and the President, whose signature is required to pass legislation, have worked to stifle every Democratic proposal.

In case you didn’t know, you can correspond with the Fox News Ticker. So if you want to tell the Ticker off, write theticker@foxnews.com

Rush Limbaugh To Challenge Gore Peace Prize Win?

This morning the Nobel Committee awarded its Peace Prize to Al Gore and the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The announcement stirred predictable speculation as to whether this honor would spur Gore to enter the Democratic primary for president. The announcement also stirred predictable gnashing of teeth and flapping of jaws as anti-planet rightists search for footing from which to bash the honorees. I’m certain that prescriptions are being furiously written for many pundits and politicos whose blood pressure is now rising faster than the global climate.

At the head of the line is Rush Limbaugh whose drug-addled delusions have him fancying himself as a Nobel nominee:

“As you know, I’m an accredited nominee this year for the Nobel Peace Prize.”

He is, of course, no such thing. His lawyers, who are not valid nominators, submitted his name to the Committee, but that doesn’t constitute accreditation. It’s surprising that Limbaugh would even bother to offer up such a lie when he has previously denounced the award:

“The Nobel Peace Prize has nothing to do with peace. I should be the recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. I’ve done more for liberty, individual freedom, and the promotion of that, which is what leads to peace, than anybody in this year’s roster of candidates. I should be the recipient. I’m not campaigning for it. I say this only to illustrate how it’s just been devalued, this whole Nobel Peace Prize has.”

That display of unchecked narcissism is typical for Rush. But even while he disparages the award, he must secretly be stewing. Earlier this this year he went so far as to propose a challenge to Gore’s Nobel candidacy:

“My lawyers at the Landmark Legal Foundation are looking into the possibility of filing an objection with the Nobel committee over the unethical tampering for this award that Al Gore is engaging in.”

By the way, those are the same lawyers that “nominated” Limbaugh. I think my second favorite thing about Gore’s winning will be watching as the light cast by this award sends roaches like Limbaugh, O’Reilly, Beck, etc., scurrying for the darkness they crave. But, like those other creepy crawlers, they won’t stay hidden for long. These are the same sleazeballs that recently attacked a 12 year-old auto accident victim because he had the temerity to speak out for health care for children. These are the same scumbags that call veterans who oppose Bush’s quagmire in Iraq “phony soldiers.” These are the same slime-miesters that are shocked to find that African-Americans eat with utensils and can run restaurants.

While we celebrate this honor for Al Gore and the victory for this little planet we call home, we might want to keep our peripheral vision attuned to the inevitable assaults from the Rapture Lobby who are all to eager to see life on this Earth come to a glorious, searing, apocalyptic end.