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.

Fox News Fux Up: The 12 Worst Wrongs Of 2012

2012 was a dismal year for Fox News. The PR arm of the GOP (Greedy One Percent) failed to fulfill its prime directive: advancing the interests of Mitt Romney and the Republican Party. They spent much of the year constructing an alternative reality that left millions of their flock in shock when President Obama won an overwhelming reelection. They refused to accept the facts on the ground and denigrated polls (even their own) when the results conflicted with the fictional narrative they were peddling. And perhaps most painful of all, they surrendered their ratings lead to MSNBC. Two-thirds of their primetime lineup (Hannity and Van Susteren) dropped to second place behind the competition on MSNBC (Maddow and O’Donnell).

However, Fox’s travails did not occur for lack of effort. They were clearly operating at the top of their capacity to distort and deceive. They carefully aligned all of their resources in the battle against honest discourse, including the Fox News Channel, Fox Business Network, the Wall Street Journal, and the abhorrent and vulgar Fox Nation web site (see Fox Nation vs. Reality). In the process they unleashed some of the most feverishly biased reporting, even for Fox News. But what’s worse is that these examples of media malpractice constitute a fundamental debasement of journalism and democracy.

1) Romancing Petraeus: Fox News CEO Roger Ailes Tries To Recruit For The GOP

Roger AilesThe Washington Post’s Bob Woodward revealed that Fox News CEO Roger Ailes had dispatched a Fox News defense analyst, to Kabul, Afghanistan, to recruit Gen. David Petraeus as a GOP candidate for president. The notion of a news network soliciting candidates for political office is a perversion of the role journalists play in society.

In response, Ailes claimed that it was “a joke” and that he “thought the Republican [primary] field needed to be shaken up.” Where Ailes got the idea that it was his right and/or duty to shake up the GOP primaries is unexplained. News people are supposed to report the news, not make it. Woodward’s story affirms that Fox News is a rogue operation. Their intrusion into the political process debases journalism by breaching all standards of ethical conduct. And they debase democracy as well by exploiting their power and wealth to manipulate political outcomes.

2) Fox News Produces Their Own Anti-Obama Video

Last May on Fox & Friends, the program’s hosts introduced a video that purported to examine “Four Years of Hope and Change.” What it was in reality was a four-plus minute campaign video that presented a variety of soundbites by President Obama accompanied by ominous graphics and eerie music that falsely implied that his campaign promises were unkept. The video (which Media Matters thoroughly debunks here) could not have been a more pro-Romney, anti-Obama attack had it been produced by the Republican National Committee.

Apparently Fox News also recognized the gross inappropriateness of their anti-Obama attack ad. Minutes after the video was posted online it was removed from every place it had been posted. Later, an edited version of it was re-posted, and then that too was removed. Eventually, Fox EVP Bill Shine issued a statement scapegoating an “associate producer” and concluding that the matter “has been addressed.” But it’s difficult for Fox to absolve itself of responsibility for this atrociously unethical affair. By now it is so obvious that Fox exists only to promote Republicans and bash Democrats that this video fits squarely within their twisted mission.

3) Question For Fox News: How Much Rape Is Too Much Rape?

Liz TrottaIn a discussion of the role of women in the military, Fox News contributor Liz Trotta expressed an opinion about new rules from the Pentagon that would permit women to serve closer to the front lines. Trotta’s take on this centered on the problems faced by servicewomen who are sexually assaulted by fellow soldiers whom she regards as whiners because they won’t shut up accept the fact that if they work closely with men they should expect to be assaulted.

And if that weren’t bad enough, Trotta went on to complain about the expensive military bureaucracy set up to “support women in the military who are now being raped too much.” I would really like to know precisely how much rape is acceptable before it crosses Trotta’s line. Is there any context in which she might have meant that that isn’t unfathomably repulsive?

4) Fox News Conning Latinos For Politics And Profit

Fox viewers are accustomed to stories about “illegals” swarming across the border to take up residency in the U.S. and sponge off of our prosperity. There is hardly a mention of immigrants on Fox that isn’t associated with crime, joblessness, or drug cartels. Lately, however, someone at Fox News has recognized a major flaw in their strategy to demonize immigrants, particularly Latinos, who are a growing constituency of both consumers and citizens who can vote and are registering in record numbers. So how does Fox maintain their editorial animosity toward immigrants without alienating an increasingly important voter group?

The answer appears to be by developing news content specifically for this demographic and sequestering it from the rest of their viewership. This has resulted in a flurry of disparaging articles on the Fox News flagship, while the same story is presented on their new Fox News Latino in a far less bigoted fashion. And the pinnacle of this hypocrisy occurred during a Fox report on the election when they displayed video of illegal border crossers with a caption reading “The Hispanic Vote.”

5) Fox News Lies About Military Access To Voting In Ohio

This year Republicans engaged in a widespread and blatant effort to suppress voting by Democratic-leaning constituencies such as seniors, minorities, students and low income citizens. In the state of Ohio they sought to amend a law that granted early voting to everyone so that only members of the military would be permitted to vote early in the three days prior to the election. Democrats objected to this as it discriminates against certain voters, and they filed suit to preserve the right of every Ohio citizen to vote early.

Fox News picked up the story advancing the premise that Democrats were seeking to take something away from our military. Anchor Shannon Bream falsely declared that “If President Obama gets his way, the special voting rights of some of America’s finest will be eliminated.” The truth however, is that Democrats in Ohio were suing to insure that nobody’s rights were eliminated. The Ohio GOP was deliberately attempting to suppress the votes of citizens they presumed would vote Democratic. And Fox News helped them in that mission by brazenly lying about the substance of the debate and pushing the GOP opinion as if it were fact.

6) Graphic Evidence Of The Racism Of Fox News: Racial Photoshopping

Coverage of the Trayvon Martin shooting was handled by Fox News in a manner that is revealing and offensive. On the day that Florida law enforcement authorities planned to file charges against George Zimmerman, Fox ran a story that featured a photo of Zimmerman with a beaming smile alongside one of Martin that looked foreboding and was obviously darkened. This was nothing less than a journalistic lynching. The editors at this alleged “news” network were demonstrating their overt hostility to both African-Americans and journalistic ethics.

Fox News Racial Photoshopping

Later in the day a more impartial photo was inserted that was not as overtly disparaging of the victim. You think they got a few complaints about the previous photo? Fox had numerous pictures from which to choose of both Martin and Zimmerman, and they chose the most negative picture of Martin which they paired with the most positive picture of Zimmerman. That was not an accident. It was the result of deliberate editorial judgment. And it tells us everything we need to know about Fox’s editors.

7) The Polling Schizophrenia At Fox News

Throughout the year Fox News led their audience on a roller coaster ride of propaganda and censorship as they shifted from celebrating what they regarded as positive electoral news to suppressing the negative. They persistently sought to cloister their audience in a bubble that filtered out any facts that might upset their viewers or political patrons. Fox was so determined to shut out anything that might challenge their narrative that they even failed to report their own Fox News polls if Obama was ahead.

This was a part of a broader effort to deceive their audience by castigating or ignoring polls when they didn’t like the results and praising the same pollsters when their numbers were more favorable. They launched a campaign to demean professional pollsters and prop up disreputable charlatans with their “unskewed” versions. Not surprisingly, this led to the unprecedented post-election state of shock experienced by those who were foolish enough to rely on Fox for information.

8) Fox News Psycho Analyst: Newt Gingrich’s Adultery Means A Stronger America

The in-house Fox News psychiatrist, Keith Ablow, has offered his embarrassingly ridiculous diagnoses on a number of occasions. Without ever having examined (or even met) the President, Ablow has declared him to be contemptuous of the judiciary and devoid of all emotion. He further assessed that Obama has “got it in for this country” and doesn’t like Americans. These are, of course, the delusional ramblings of a quack who is more preoccupied with his own animosity for the President than with credible psychiatric analysis.

During the GOP primary, Ablow chimed in on criticism of Newt Gingrich for his serial marriages that ended when his wives became ill or failed to serve his political purposes. Ablow’s astonishing diagnosis was that Gingrich as president would make America stronger specifically because of his multiple infidelities. Ablow actually thinks that three wives and two extramarital affairs (that we know about) enhance Gingrich’s qualifications to be president. His reasoning had something to do with the fact that multiple homewreckers found him to be marriageable material and that that was a mark of character. This is what passes for family values in today’s GOP.

9) Fox News Airs An Hour Long Commercial For An Anti-Obama Film On Hannity

In the heart of the presidential campaign season, Sean Hannity’s program on Fox News devoted the full hour to a blatant infomercial promoting an anti-Obama movie by the people who brought us Citizens United. The program featured lengthy clips from the film as well as interviews with the film’s creators, David Bossie and Steve Bannon. Bossie is the head of Citizens United, the organization that prompted the abhorrent Supreme Court decision that made it possible for individuals and corporations to donate unlimited sums of cash to political candidates and causes. Bannon is chairman of Breitbart News and was the director of the monumental flop, “Sarah Palin: Undefeated,” a movie that managed to fail miserably despite millions of dollars in free publicity courtesy of Fox News.

What’s particularly disturbing about this is that the producers freely admit that their purpose is not so much to promote the film, but to let their ads serve as disguised political messages aimed at disparaging the President and affecting the outcome of the election. The reason that they chose October to release the film was so their advertising would appear during the campaign season and they could pretend that it was merely marketing for the movie. And I repeat, this is not a conspiracy theory, it is something they specifically admit to and boast about. Fox News was merely the first stop on their media blitz.

10) Fox News “Democrat” Kirsten Powers Accuses Obama Of Sympathizing With Terrorists

Kirsten PowersThe next time you hear the Fox News slogan “fair and balanced,” be sure to remember that their rendering of fairness is to trot out covert conservatives and label them Democrats. A perfect illustration of this is alleged Democrat Kirsten Powers, who took to Fox News to attack President Obama in an article titled: “President Obama, stop blaming the victim for Mideast violence.”. If you changed the name to Ann Coulter nobody would have blinked an eye.

Powers was addressing the violence at American facilities in Libya and Egypt when she wrote that respecting religious beliefs “is implicit sympathy for the claims of some of the attackers and rioters.” So Powers thinks that respect for the diversity of faith is tantamount to sympathizing with terrorists. She cannot comprehend that such respect is offered to the vast majority of peaceful Muslims who had nothing to do with the violence. And allowing her to spew that bile while posing as a Democratic analyst is part of how Fox distorts their presentation of fairness and balance.

11) Fox News Spinning Furiously On Unemployment Rate

Behaving entirely consistently with a network that harbors politcos who want to see President Obama fail, Fox News cavalierly dismissed the October unemployment report showing a drop to 7.8 percent. Heaven forbid anything good happens in this country while a black, socialist, Muslim from Kenya is in charge. So while having the unemployment rate drop from 8.1 to 7.8 will bring the rest of the country some solace, it just creates headaches for the doomsayers at Fox.

Fox spent the whole morning trying to hatch skeptics. They brought in former General Electric CEO Jack Welch to explain his delusional Tweet: “Unbelievable jobs numbers..these Chicago guys will do anything..can’t debate so change numbers.” Fox’s Stuart Varney concurred along with Donald Trump and a bevy of correspondents and guests. None of them could explain why an independent agency of career economists, without a single Obama appointee, would fudge the numbers for a president to whom they owed nothing.

12) Fox News Opposes Ban On Assault Weapons But Imposes Ban On Talking About It

The most heartbreaking news of 2012 was surely the massacre in Newtown, CT, that saw twenty schoolchildren and six adults senselessly murdered. The resultant outcry from concerned Americans about the easy access to weapons that are capable of such carnage was met by Fox News as an unspeakable attack on the Second Amendment and free enterprise. Their response was to slaughter the First Amendment by prohibiting any discussion of gun safety on the network.

Sources told Gabriel Sherman of New York Magazine that “David Clark, the executive producer in charge of Fox’s weekend coverage, gave producers instructions not to talk about gun-control policy on air.” This is how Fox directs the editorial content of the network. They have a heavy hand enforcing what people may, and may not, say on the air. It’s also worthwhile to note that while Fox banned all talk of gun control, they did not similarly banish talk of other explanations for the atrocity in Connecticut. For instance, they had no problem with laying the blame on mental illness, movies, or video games. And Fox host Mike Huckabee was permitted to go on the air and blame the killings on the absence of God in the classroom (which does nothing to explain similar shootings that have taken place in churches).


While Fox News broadcasts flagrant distortions of reality on a daily basis, the examples above transcend the conventional dishonesty and bias that is their hallmark. These assaults on ethical journalism demonstrate how dangerous it is to permit a political enterprise to disguise itself as a news network in order to shape an extreme political agenda. It is evidence of social programming and manipulation at its worst. And the sad part is that we can expect much more of this in 2013. Happy New Year!

Fox Nation vs. Reality: 10 Flagrant Falsehoods From The Fox News Community Site

Fox Nation vs. Reality[This article was previously published on Alternet and contains a few excerpts from my new eBook, Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Community’s Assault On Truth. The book contains more than fifty additional examples of Fox’s dishonesty.]

When Fox News debuted sixteen years ago, it was crafted from scratch to be a partisan outlet for right-wing propaganda and a platform for advancing a conservative agenda. Its founder, Rupert Murdoch, was already an internationally known purveyor of right-slanted newspapers and broadcasters. Complimenting Fox’s television presence is its Internet community web site, Fox Nation. The statement of purpose posted on the Fox Nation web site says that it is “committed to the core principles of tolerance, open debate, civil discourse, and fair and balanced coverage of the news.” However, a cursory glance at the site reveals that they have fallen wide of their stated purpose by several light years.

Fox Nation is layered thickly with far-right extremist diatribes and links to disreputable articles plucked from the Internet’s fringes. And the notion that civil discourse can take place on Fox Nation is quickly dispelled by reading their user forums with their frequent use of the “N” word and juvenile references to the President as “Odumbo” and the First Lady as “Moo-chelle.” These sorts of comments are not anomalies. Fox Nation is deliberately catering to this caliber of audience who revel in overt racist and hostile dialogue. This is not the conventional, freewheeling online chatter that is found on comment boards and is particularly unusual for a site sponsored by a major national news network.

Not much is known about the operations of Fox Nation. Unlike other news enterprises that identify their principle staff, Fox Nation treats their publishers, editors, etc., as if they were covert agents of espionage. There is no masthead or bylines or any other indication of who is responsible for the repugnant content posted daily on the web page. Requests for this information from Fox corporate communications officers went unanswered. And given the dishonesty, unprofessionalism, ignorance, and immaturity of the tone and substance on the site, perhaps it is their intention to remain anonymous in order to avoid the shame that would come with an association to such puerile trash.

Fox CEO Rupert Murdoch was a harsh critic of Google News, calling them “parasites,” because he said they steal his content by posting headlines and short blurbs and linking to the source articles. But that’s pretty hypocritical because it’s exactly what Fox Nation does. There is almost no original content, and what they harvest from other sources is often planted on affiliated sites like those of Fox News contributors Tucker Carlson, Michele Malkin, and Dick Morris.

What follows are ten excerpts from my ebook, Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Community’s Assault On Truth. The book chronicles more than fifty flagrantly dishonest reports by the Fox Nationalist team of faux journalists. These are not mere differences of opinion or discussions that might have varying degrees of perspective. They are obvious, provable, outright lies, and they are manifestations of a disconnect with the real world.

1) Human Carbon Emissions Could Put OFF a Lethal New Ice Age
According to the Fox Nationalists, the perpetrators of Global Warming are actually rescuing the planet from a frigid doom. They quote Cambridge University research published in the journal Nature Geoscience. The only problem with their conclusion is that the scientist they reference in the article, Luke Skinner, has a completely different conclusion. He says that he anticipated this response amongst climate crisis deniers and said that they are…

“…missing the point, because where we’re going is not maintaining our currently warm climate but heating it much further, and adding CO2 to a warm climate is very different from adding it to a cold climate.

“The rate of change with CO2 is basically unprecedented, and there are huge consequences if we can’t cope with that.”

Skinner told the BBC that the results of the study point to the sensitivity of the climate system to “quite small changes in CO2, let alone the huge changes that we’ve been responsible for over the last 200 years.” Of course, none of that is included in the Fox Nation article. They deliberately neglect the obvious point that by the time the presumed ice age begins, in 1,500 years, global warming, if unchecked, would have already put half the planet’s current land mass under water. But these facts do not sway Fox from cherry-picking out-of-context soundbites to mislead their audience.

2) College Mate: Obama Was An Ardent Marxist-Leninist
In this episode Fox Nation posted as their featured headline story an article with the title: College Mate: Obama Was an ‘Ardent’ ‘Marxist-Leninist.’ In order to fabricate this wholly dishonest smear, Fox sunk to re-posting a column written by conservative bomb-thrower Selwyn Duke. Duke’s article was originally published by The New American, the periodical of the extremist and notoriously fascistic John Birch Society.

In the article, Duke relied entirely on the testimony of John Drew, a man who has been pushing his dubious and uncorroborated account of a college relationship with Obama for years. He claims that Obama was a close friend and confidant. The truth is he only met Obama casually a handful of times at gatherings with many others present. He never attended college with Obama because the future President didn’t enter Occidental College until after Drew had graduated.

It’s painfully clear to anyone paying attention that Drew is attempting to exploit his brief encounters with Obama to exalt himself, disseminate his rightist propaganda, and earn a few bucks in the process. Now, after years of plodding through radical right-wing rags and Internet backwater rabble, Drew and Duke have succeeded in getting Fox Nation to sling their stale mud.

3) Obama Selling Amnesty For $465
The issue of immigration is one that the Fox Nationalists relish in demagoguing. They publish numerous stories that are openly racist, as has been thoroughly documented. This is just such a story that was designed to inflame prejudice with its utterly dishonest skewing of the facts. The headline composed by Fox Nation is wholly untrue. Not only is amnesty not a part of the administration’s program, nothing in it is for sale.

In truth, President Obama directed the Department of Homeland Security to exercise prosecutorial discretion so that innocent children who were brought to this country by undocumented parents are not unduly punished while a more comprehensive solution is negotiated with Congress. The program does not provide amnesty. The fee to apply for this program is intended to offset costs, but can be waived on a case by case basis for applicants unable to pay.

None of those facts stopped Fox from deliberately misrepresenting the matter in a way that leads their audience to presume that the administration is peddling citizenship to foreigners who come here to steal our jobs. It appears that Fox picked up the story from the juveniles at Breitbart News where John Nolte published an article that implied that Obama’s goal is to mint new voters. Never mind that the immigrants partaking of this program will not have voting rights because they will not be citizens.

4) Americans Not Buying Buffett Rule
The Buffett Rule that Americans are not buying refers to his remarks that wealthy folks like him should not be paying lower tax rates than average folks like his secretary. So all that the Fox Nationalists had to do to validate their headline was produce the results of a poll that shows that a majority of respondents do not believe that raising taxes on millionaires will do any good. And since, in this case, they are relying on the results of a poll conducted by Fox News, they should be able to support whatever preconceived myth they want to invent.

However, the very first paragraph of their own story states that “more voters think raising taxes on wealthy Americans will help (40 percent) rather than hurt the economy (24 percent).” And the margin of difference (16%) isn’t even close. Yet somehow the headline atop the article overtly refutes the facts in their own survey. Are these people even trying anymore? They must really think their readers are idiots. And since they must know their audience better than anyone else, I will defer to their assessment.

5) NBC News Hires Anchor Who Pledged to Not Criticize Obama About Anything
In this episode of Fox Nation’s departure from reality, the Fox Nationalists jumped on remarks by Al Sharpton suggesting that he intends to refrain from ever criticizing President Obama. But that isn’t what he said.

Sharpton: “What I don’t want to see is because he is black we act like he’s not the real president – he ought to be leading the black cause or the labor cause. He’s the President. To minimize who he is, I think, is an insult to the achievement of having him there.”

So this was not about Sharpton never criticizing Obama, just not constraining Obama to being merely the president of black Americans as opposed to all Americans. Fox, on the other hand, should acknowledge that their whole business model rests on not criticizing Republicans and conservatives. In a specific example you have Dick Morris, who has been on the Fox payroll for years, and pledged never to criticize Mitt Romney:

“I decided a couple of – a month or two ago to stop dumping on Mitt Romney, for example … Not because I approve of Romneycare, not because I approve of his flip-flops, flip on abortion, but because I may have to be one of those who carries this guy for a couple of months when he’s running against Obama and I don’t want to make my own task harder.”

Morris fulfilled that promise by becoming one of Romney’s most ardent cheerleaders. Just days before Obama won with a commanding Electoral College victory, Morris told Fox News that a Romney landslide was a virtual certainty.

6) Elizabeth Warren Praises Communist China
In response to an ad by Massachusetts senate candidate Elizabeth Warren, the Fox Nationalists have not only lied, but exposed their latent unpatriotic tendencies as well. To state bluntly that “Elizabeth Warren Praises Communist China” is a thoroughly manufactured falsehood. She never did anything remotely of the kind. What she did was advocate for the importance of America remaining competitive on an international basis and not permit China to take the lead. Here is what she said:

“We’ve got bridges and roads in need of repair, and thousands of people in need of work. Why aren’t we rebuilding America? Our competitors are putting people to work, building the future. China invests 9 percent of its GDP in infrastructure. America, we’re at just 2.4 percent. We can do better. We can build a foundation for a strong new economy and get people in Massachusetts to work right now.”

The Fox Nationalists have a decidedly shallow grasp of world affairs. They think that lamenting America falling behind on matters critical to international competitiveness is the same as praising a political system of government. Were these same conservatives outraged when Reagan, and other cold warriors, argued that the U.S. was falling behind the Soviet Union militarily and, therefore, they were praising Russia’s communism?

For Fox News, and its conservative benefactors, to criticize Warren for these comments is akin to advocating for America to succumb to foreign competitors. In effect, it’s conservatives who are acceding to China’s superiority – not the other way around.

7) Stocks Tumble Worldwide After Obama Speech
The implication of this headline is that Obama’s speech had something to do with a stock market decline. However, the very first paragraph of the Bloomberg News article Fox cites specifically states that the decline is due to…

“…escalating concern about Greece’s debt crisis and speculation congress won’t pass President Obama’s plan to boost the economy.

In other words, the markets favor Obama’s plan and want it to be implemented. So a more honest headline would have read “Stocks Tumble Worldwide Due To Republican Obstructionism.” But then again, if you’re looking for a more honest headline then you probably wouldn’t be reading Fox Nation in the first place.

8) Guess Who Tried To Break Into Southwest Cockpit?
Notice that in this headline the Fox Nationalists explicitly describes Ali Reza Shahsavari as trying to break into the cockpit of a Southwest Airlines plane. But anyone who read a little further down would have seen that the article unambiguously contradicts the headline saying “Initially, authorities said the man had tried to break into the cockpit but Amarillo Aviation Director Patrick Rhodes later said that he was ‘not trying to break into the cockpit, but was unruly and had confronted the cabin crew.'”

The headline was wholly the creation of Fox News. The story itself was sourced to the Associated Press, whose article got the headline right: “Southwest flight makes emergency landing in Texas.” So what we have here is Fox deliberately falsifying the headline in order to make a derogatory insinuation about a man of Iranian descent who just happens to be an American citizen born in Mississippi. The article states that there is no indication of terrorism and additional reporting describe the incident as an episode of mental illness triggered by an argument with another passenger. The only conclusion is that Fox saw a brown man with Middle-Eastern features and decided to invent an international terrorism incident where none existed by appending a provocative question to the story that contradicted the article’s content.

9) Man Linked to ‘Occupy’ Protest Charged With Attempted Assassination of Obama
The Fox News Channel ran a story with this same deceptive theme. They hosted Michelle Malkin to engage in a discussion that was deliberately designed to smear the Occupiers. During the segment they displayed a picture of the suspect, Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez, with a caption that said: “‘Occupy’ Shooter.” There was no question mark or other qualifying notation to indicate that this was merely speculation on the part of Fox News.

For the record, the only link between this guy and the Occupy movement is the one invented by Fox. The Washington police have stated unequivocally that they have no evidence that he was affiliated in any way with the protesters. Reports that he may have tried to hide in the crowds at the Occupy DC site should not surprise anyone. Any densely populated location would attract somebody trying to elude law enforcement. A football game or an Alzheimer’s Walkathon would serve the same purpose.

What little is known about Ortega-Hernandez would likely lead objective analysts to suspect him of being a Teabagger. He is said to be anti-government, hates President Obama, and has a history of mental illness. That’s a profile that would fit perfectly for say … Glenn Beck.

10) Poll: Majority Blame Obama For Bad Economy
There have been numerous polls asking respondents to say who they hold responsible for the state of the American economy. In every one of them George W. Bush ranks at or near the top, with Congress and Wall Street following close behind. Usually President Obama is not the target of most of the blame.

Leave it to Fox News to come up with a poll that contradicts the others. And it should come as no surprise that the poll they’ve latched onto is the work of Rasmussen’s Pulse Opinion Research. However, even with a fixed pollster, and a rabidly partisan news outlet, Fox still finds it necessary to outright lie about the poll’s results.

In Rasmussen’s poll 34% said that Obama is the most to blame for the slow economic recovery. Most elementary school graduates know that that is not a majority. What’s more, if you add the responses of those who said that it was either Congress, Wall Street, or George W. Bush, it comes to a clear majority of 61% saying that Obama is not to blame. The Fox Nationalists must take great comfort in the knowledge that their audience is too incurious to actually look into anything themselves.

Bonus #11) Obama More Unpopular Than Tea Party
Here we have Fox Nation with a headline that is diametrically opposed to the actual results of a poll. From the New York Times:

“The public’s opinion of the Tea Party movement has soured in the wake of the debt-ceiling debate. The Tea Party is now viewed unfavorably by 40 percent of the public and favorably by just 20 percent, according to the poll.

“The president’s overall job approval rating remained relatively stable, with 48 percent approving of the way he handles his job as president and 47 percent disapproving.”

To repeat, 48% approve of Obama while only 20% approve of the Tea Party. That means Obama’s approval is more than twice that of the Tea Party. What’s more, Obama is viewed favorably by slightly more people than view him unfavorably. The Tea Party is viewed unfavorably by twice as many people as view it favorably.

The only way to spin this poll positively for the Tea Party is to deliberately misconstrue the data by taking into account only the unfavorable numbers as if they existed in a vacuum. Leave it to Fox to lie to their audience and produce a community characterized by ignorance and wishful thinking.

These are just a few examples of the veracity-challenged deceptions that appear everyday on Fox Nation. In the ebook, Fox Nation vs. Reality, there are dozens more examples of the documented, deliberate dishonesty that is the hallmark of Fox News. It’s a handy reference for rebutting those crazy uncles who keep sending you conspiracy theory chain letters and berating you for having missed Hannity last night.

Fox Nation is an integral part of the Fox News family and a critical component of their mission to deceive the general public and reinforce the partisan tunnel-blindness of their glassy-eyed disciples. This makes it all the more necessary to shine a light on their cynical mauling of truthfulness in media. Mark Twain said that “Reality can be beaten with enough imagination.” And the fabulists at Fox have imagination in abundance as evidenced by all the tales they make up on their web site. So the more they seek to deceive, the more the rest of us need to be prepared to rebut and confront them. As difficult as that task may seem, we can take heart in Stephen Colbert’s observation that “Reality has a well known liberal bias.” Which explains why it is so at odds with what Fox represents.

American Conservatives Who Still Think That Slavery Was A Good Thing

Right-Wing RacismFor obvious reasons, the American conservative movement has long been dogged by accusations of racism and racial insensitivity. From their famed Southern strategy to their determined efforts to suppress minority voting via phony voter ID initiatives to their race-baiting Obama attacks, conservatives have made clear their opposition to a tolerant, multicultural America. In fact, much of their electoral strategy relies on scaring older, white voters about blacks and Hispanics taking over “their” country.

It’s not uncommon to hear a prominent conservative, even one who holds elected office, make patently offensive remarks, yet some occasionally hit an unimaginable low. This week, it was revealed that Republican Rep. Jon Hubbard has published a book in which he wrote that “[T]he institution of slavery that the black race has long believed to be an abomination upon its people may actually have been a blessing in disguise.” He defended his book on Wednesday, telling the Jonesboro Sun that he still believed slavery to be a blessing because it helped blacks come to America. Yes, he praised slavery. And when given the opportunity to backpedal, he doubled down.

This article was also published on Alternet

You may think that this does not occur often. You would be wrong. Here are a few other prominent conservatives who have suggested slavery was not all that bad.

1) Pat Buchanan
In his essay “A Brief for Whitey,” Buchanan agreed that slavery was a net positive saying that, “America has been the best country on earth for black folks. It was here that 600,000 black people, brought from Africa in slave ships, grew into a community of 40 million, were introduced to Christian salvation, and reached the greatest levels of freedom and prosperity blacks have ever known.”

2 & 3) Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum
Bob Vander Plaats, the leader of the arch-conservative Family Leader, a religious organization that opposes same-sex marriage, got GOP presidential candidates Bachmann and Santorum to sign his pledge asserting that life for African-Americans was better during the era of slavery: “A child born into slavery in 1860 was more likely to be raised by his mother and father in a two-parent household than was an African American baby born after the election of the USA’s first African-American President.”

4) Art Robinson
Robinson was a publisher and a GOP candidate for congress in Oregon. One of the books he published included this evaluation of life under slavery: “The negroes on a well-ordered estate, under kind masters, were probably a happier class of people than the laborers upon any estate in Europe.”

5) Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson
Peterson is a conservative preacher who articulated this bit of gratitude: “Thank God for slavery, because if not, the blacks who are here would have been stuck in Africa.”

6) David Horowitz
Horowitz is the president of the David Horowitz Freedom Center and edits the ultra-conservative FrontPage Magazine. In a diatribe against reparations for slavery, Horowitz thought this argument celebrating the luxurious life of blacks in America would bolster his case: “If slave labor created wealth for Americans, then obviously it has created wealth for black Americans as well, including the descendants of slaves.”

7) Wes Riddle
Riddle was a GOP congressional candidate in Texas with some peculiar conspiracy theories on a variety of subjects. His appreciation for what slavery did for African-Americans was captured in this comment: “Are the descendants of slaves really worse off? Would Jesse Jackson be better off living in Uganda?”

8) Trent Franks
Franks is the sitting congressman for the 2nd congressional district in Arizona. As shown here, he believes that a comparison of the tribulations of African-Americans today to those of their ancestors in the Confederacy would favor a life in bondage: “Far more of the African American community is being devastated by the policies of today than were being devastated by the policies of slavery.”

9) Ann Coulter
Known for her incendiary rhetoric and hate speech, Coulter was right in character telling Megyn Kelly of Fox News that, “The worst thing that was done to black people since slavery was the great society programs.”

10) Rep. Loy Mauch
This Arkansas GOP state legislator has found biblical support for his pro-slavery position. He wrote to the Democrat-Gazette to inquire, “If slavery were so God-awful, why didn’t Jesus or Paul condemn it, why was it in the Constitution and why wasn’t there a war before 1861?”

There is an almost palpable nostalgia amongst some conservatives for a bygone era wherein they could sip Mint Juleps under the Magnolias while the fields were tended to by unpaid lackeys. And it isn’t a vague insinuation. Mitt Romney supporter Ted Nugent declared explicitly that “I’m beginning to wonder if it would have been best had the South won the Civil War.” Allen West, the chairman of Romney’s Black Leadership Council, frequently portrays Democrats as plantation masters who want to enslave American citizens. And no one should regard it as a coincidence that so much of this racist animus has surfaced during the term of the first African-American president of the United States.

It’s one thing to harbor such offensive racial prejudices privately, but when people in public life are comfortable enough to openly express opinions like these, it reveals something of the character of their movement. And what’s worse is that conservative and Republican leaders, given the opportunity, refuse to repudiate the remarks. Mitt Romney has stated that all he’s concerned about is getting 50.1% of the vote, and if that means tolerating appeals to racist voters in order to attain his goal, then it’s just a part of the process. Conservatives often complain about being characterized as racists, but there’s a simple solution to that problem that would make it go away overnight: Stop being racist.

UNHINGED: The Crackpot Conspiracy Theories Of Clueless Conservatives

This article was also published on Alternet.

Conservatives and professional Obama haters have been nurturing an animosity for Obama that far exceeds anything directed at previous presidents. The lengths that they will go to bury Obama in mud often resemble D-Movie spy plots that set new standards for implausibility. The all too familiar birther conspiracies that allege that President Obama is a Manchurian socialist bent on transforming America into an Islamic Caliphate are mere fairy tales when compared to some of the horror stories that shiver the spines of the delusional right.

The frequency and outlandishness of their conspiratorial imaginations grows in sync with their desperation. With Obama leading in most polls and the election season drawing to a close, it seems like a good time to recap some of the more ludicrous conspiracies hatched by our conservative fear mongers. So with our tin-foil hats securely strapped on, let’s venture down the primrose path of hair-raising hypothesis.

Cooking the Unemployment Rate
The most recent crackpottery of the right was revealed last week as new unemployment numbers were released. The new data put the unemployment rate at 7.8%, the lowest it has been since the Bush administration cratered the economy on their way out of town. Almost immediately, right-wingers declared that the numbers were manufactured by Obama’s henchmen in the Labor Department. Never mind the fact that the Bureau of Labor Statistics is an independent body that currently has no Obama appointees serving. That didn’t stop conspiracists like Jack Welch from alleging that they are “Unbelievable jobs numbers..these Chicago guys will do anything..can’t debate so change numbers.” That unsubstantiated charge was adopted by Rep. Allen West, Fox News’ Stuart Varney, and much of the rest of the right-wing media circus.

The Media is Skewing the Polls
For several weeks now, Obama has maintained a steady lead in election polling. That fact has been difficult for conservatives to square with their conviction that Obama is the most hated man in America. Consequently, they must conclude that all of the polls have been tampered with by scheming liberals. However, for their conspiracy to be credible, they would have to include Fox News and Rasmussen amongst the conniving lefties because their polling also puts Obama in the lead. One way they have found to workaround that inconvenient fact is to ignore the polls that challenge their thesis. Therefore, Fox News simply neglects to report on polls that show the President leading – even their own Fox News polls.

Fox Nation Polls

Politicizing the Stock Market
In a year when the economy is such an integral part of the news cycle, conservatives have found it necessary to glom onto any factoid that they can use to bash the President. That manifests into a frenzy of spin that casts any decline in the stock market as the fault of Obama, and any increase as investor speculation that Obama is on the way out. Last week, many of the right-dominated business networks feebly described a positive day for the Dow as a Romney rally, simply because it occurred on the day after the presidential debate. There is a long history of the right making idiotic assessments of the stock market. In May of 2009, Fox News anchor Brenda Buttner gushed, “Call it a tea party rally. Wall Street’s sure partying, up six weeks in a row.” In September of 2011, Fox Nation reported “Stocks Tumble Worldwide After Obama Speech.” Then in June of 2012, they fantasized that “Stock Market Drops After Obamacare Upheld.” Fox’s Neil Cavuto hosted a discussion of what he called the “Bush recovery” nine months into Obama’s term. What they commonly miss is that markets traditionally perform better under Democratic administrations than Republicans.

Obama is Coming for Your Guns
This conspiracy theory takes a considerable measure of willful suspension of disbelief. The National Rifle Association has alerted its members that a second Obama term will result in the repeal of the second amendment and a wholesale confiscation of guns. Their evidence of this is that Obama has done nothing at all to roll back gun rights during his first term. That, they surmise, is a devious trick to lull gun rights advocates into a false sense of security. Then, when Obama is no longer facing a reelection campaign, he will be free to curtail all of our precious liberties.

The Social Security Administration’s Arms Cache
When it was discovered that the Social Security Administration had purchased 174,000 bullets, the right-wing sirens went off and presumed that they were preparing for massive civil unrest and intended to use the ammo on Americans. “‘Why would the U.S. government want the SSA to kill 174,000 of our citizens, even during a time of civil unrest?’ Maj. Gen. Jerry Curry wrote on the conservative website The Daily Caller.” That would be a good question if it weren’t rooted in utter dementia. In fact, the actual reason for the purchase was a routine acquisition to arm conventional security personnel at the agency’s offices across the country.

The Muslim Mole in the Secretary of State’s Office
A longtime aide to Hillary Rodham Clinton was accused by conservatives of having ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. Huma Abedin has worked with Clinton for many years as a trusted and effective public servant. No evidence was given for the repugnant allegations that cast her as a traitorous double agent. She is also married to former Rep. Anthony Weiner, who is Jewish and unlikely to be affiliated with Muslim extremists. But that didn’t stop Rep. Michele Bachmann who said, “it appears that there are individuals who are associated with the Muslim Brotherhood who have positions, very sensitive positions” in our government. She was joined by other prominent conservatives like Newt Gingrich and Frank Gaffney. This conspiracy dove-tails nicely with those alleging that Obama is a Muslim plant as well.

Fact-Checkers Are A Liberal Plot
Creative and shameless conservatives are establishing a new and unique front in the political war zone. Not satisfied with bashing everything about the media (despite the fact that talk radio and their own Fox News are a huge part of it), the wackoids on the right have declared war against – get this – Fact-checkers! This may seem wildly deranged, but upon reflection it makes perfect sense. If your entire movement is built on a foundation of lies, then fact-checkers are your mortal enemy. This became clear a few weeks ago when Neil Newhouse, a Mitt Romney adviser, publicly declared that “We’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers.” Since then they have disputed or ignored every challenge of their truthfulness. The result is a record setting collection of dishonorable mentions from PolitiFact and other media lie detectors.

Romney Fact Checkers

The Secret Behind The Gulf Oil Spill
When millions of barrels of oil were pouring into the waters of the Gulf of Mexico, most Americans were disturbed by the devastating environmental damage and the negligence of the company operating the drilling platform. But conservatives led by Rush Limbaugh saw through the scheme and revealed that the massive malfunction was actually a deliberate act of sabotage devised to create a justification for eliminating all off-shore drilling. Limbaugh told his audience that “I want to get back to the timing of the blowing up, the explosion out there in the Gulf of Mexico of this oil rig … What better way to head off more oil drilling, nuclear plants, than by blowing up a rig?” You can’t argue with logic like that, because it’s the logic of a mad man who thinks the President would murder twelve workers and foul an environmentally sensitive region in order to achieve a political goal.

Obamacare’s Death Panels
No list of conspiracy theories would be complete without a mention of Sarah Palin’s “death panels.” These nefarious groups were said to have the power to decide whether your grandmother would live or die based on her level of productivity to society as determined by a team of government bureaucrats. In reality the section of the Affordable Care Act to which Palin referred actually provided for coverage to pay for end-of-life counseling. These were voluntary sessions to help patients determine and document what sort of life-saving measures they preferred in the event that they were incapacitated and unable to communicate their wishes to their doctors. When that proved to be an embarrassing misinterpretation of the law, conservatives switched to another section of the bill, the Independent Payment Advisory Board, and called that the death panel. However, the IPAB was simply a board that assessed the best practices in medicine and made non-binding recommendations in order to prevent excessive billing and unnecessary procedures. Palin was awarded the “Lie of the Year” award from PolitiFact for her imaginary panel.

The Green Plot to Enslave the World
Conservatives have never taken to science. So it should come as no surprise that many of them regard global warming as a hoax whose purpose is to enrich Al Gore and a few socialist wind farmers. But there is another faction of the anti-environment movement that has uncovered something even more dastardly lurking behind the effort to maintain a clean, sustainable planet. Agenda 21, a little known and non-binding resolution adopted by the United Nations is viewed by some on the right as an attempt to control the lives of people throughout the world by regulating everything they do. Amongst their paranoid fears is that Agenda 21 will cede U.S. sovereignty to the U.N. and a one-world government. The truth is that Agenda 21 is a set of principles to guide the development of practices to preserve a sustainable environment for future generations. It is entirely voluntary and was agreed to by the U.N. in 1992 and signed by President George H.W. Bush. But to hear doomsayers like Glenn Beck put it, it will “suck all the blood out of [our communities], and we will not be able to survive.”

These are but a few of the tales woven by angst-ridden right-wingers in the dark moments when their thoughts wander from rational reality. However, the science that they scorn may have an explanation for their fantastical imaginings. Ryota Kanai, at the University College London Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, examined how liberals and conservatives brains differ. Among the findings were that the brains of liberals have a larger anterior cingulate cortex which has been shown to produce thought proceses that are more flexible and reliant on data, proof, and analytic reasoning. Conservatives are more likely to have an enlarged amygdala which is associated with greater inflexibility, emotion, and fear response.

This could account for conservatives having a greater susceptibility to conspiracy models of thinking. Whatever the explanation, it is clear that their senses are working overtime and the results produce some pretty wild visions of nightmarish liberals threatening America’s very existence. They seem to have taken very seriously the warning from the Reagan-era horror film, The Fly: Be afraid. Be very afraid.

The Ten (Plus) Rankest Hypocrisies Of Mitt Romney And The Republican Party

A slightly abridged version of this article was published on Alternet

The Republican National Convention was a rare opportunity to peer into the soul of a party that has embraced an open aversion to the truth. It was a veritable festival of falsehoods, from Paul Ryan implying that a GM plant that had shut down before President Obama was inaugurated was somehow his fault, to Mitt Romney perpetuating the myth that Obama’s health care plan had cut $700 billion from the benefits of Medicare recipients. Even the theme of last Wednesday’s program, “We Built This,” rested on a thoroughly dishonest misrepresentation of the President’s words.

Less noticed was a parade of hypocrisies that would bring shame to anyone with a modicum of self-respect. The degree of hypocritical expressions emanating from the right has reached historic proportions. It’s as if they have lost the ability to recognize the obvious contradictions they exude. Or, more likely, they simply don’t care. They are more interested in scoring political points which, unfortunately, is a deceit at which they are occasionally successful.

The hyper-hypocritical tendencies of today’s GOP has spread through the Party’s blood stream and is discernible from almost every angle. Below is a sampling of recent examples of rank hypocrisy caught gushing from the right and its most prominent proponents.

1) Hypocrisy On Health Care: Romney has promised that his first action on day one of a Romney administration would be to repeal ObamaCare. Of course, he wouldn’t have any authority to do that and attempting to pass legislation in congress would get stopped short in the Democratically-controlled senate. However, he may want to have a discussion with his running mate. It was recently disclosed that Ryan quietly applied for funding of a Wisconsin health care clinic in his district. The funds would come entirely from the Affordable Care Act that Ryan and Romney now propose to repeal. Also, after insisting that he would repeal Obamacare in its entirety, Romney told David Gregory on Meet the Press “I say we’re going to replace Obamacare. And I’m replacing it with my own plan.” Somebody needs to remind Romney that Obamacare IS his own plan, including the individual mandate.

2) Hypocrisy On Political Ads: In an interview on the Bill Bennett radio show, Mitt Romney lashed out at what he considered to be false ads by a pro-Obama Super PAC. In the course of his tirade he lamented that “in the past, when people pointed out that something was inaccurate, why, campaigns pulled the ad.” Romney said this even as he refused to pull his own ads that had been rated “Pants-on-Fire” lies by PolitiFact. Subsequently, the Romney campaign decided to abandon any pretense to honesty and declare that fact-checkers had “jumped the shark,” and that they would no longer “let our campaign be dictated by fact checkers.” In other words, we’ll lie if we feel like it.

Ann Romney3) Hypocrisy On Women: At the GOP convention in Tampa, Ann Romney gave a keynote speech wherein she saluted women saying “You are the best of America. You are the hope of America. There would not be an America without you.” It was a naked attempt to appeal to women voters with whom the GOP is having trouble connecting. However, beyond her vacant flattery she never uttered a word of support for issues of importance to women. There was no mention of equal pay, gender discrimination in the workplace, parental leave, or child welfare services like health care or nutritional programs. The only references she made to education were how fortunate her husband and children were to have the benefit of attending first-rate institutions that most Americans will never see. And the GOP platform strikes a markedly different tone by banning access to family planning services and effectively asserting that women, “the hope of America,” are not competent to make decisions about their own bodies.

4) Hypocrisy On Misogyny: The comments of GOP senate candidate Todd Akin regarding “legitimate rape” caused a firestorm of criticism from both Democrats and Republicans. Many on the right insisted that Akin withdraw from the Missouri senate race. However, most of the criticism was directed at the harm that Akin caused to the GOP’s prospects of winning the seat, rather than to the offensive views Akin articulated. There was abundant gnashing of teeth over Akin’s stupidity for putting the election at risk, but little condemnation for what he actually said. The reason for that is that when it comes to women, the right’s policies are actually a logical conclusion of Akin’s dumb outburst. In fact, Ryan cosponsored a bill in the House with Akin that sought to redefine the term “rape” so that federal funds were unavailable for victims unless the crime was deemed “forcible,” which would have excluded many assaults that were statutory, incest, or under duress.

5) Hypocrisy On Voting: Fox News and Romney have both recently made an issue of legislation in Ohio that would remove early voting availability for all voters except those in the military. The Obama Justice Department challenged the law arguing that every voter should have early access to the polls. Romney and Fox responded by accusing the President of wanting to make it more difficult for soldiers to vote, even though the administration’s position was to make voting easier for everyone. What Romney and Fox did not say was that their position would have denied early voting to over 900,000 Ohio veterans (in addition to millions of other Ohio residents) who were not included in the GOP’s bill. [Note: An Ohio court just ruled in favor of the administration’s position, but the Ohio Secretary of State insisted that he would defy the court order to open the polls. Then, after the judge demanded the Secretary of State appear before him to explain himself, he backed down and agreed to the court’s order].

6) Hypocrisy On Tax Shelters: Mitt Romney’s problems with his financial records are well known. He continues to refuse to release his tax returns even as more evidence comes out that he has engaged in shenanigans involving off-shore banks and other tax avoidance schemes. Nevertheless, Romney had the audacity to address a group of donors and complain about big businesses that “save money by putting various things in the places where there are low tax havens around the world.” Apparently that’s only acceptable for wealthy presidential candidates.

7) Hypocrisy On The Economy: Are you better off now than you were four years ago? Mitt Romney says “Yes.” The key issue of the Romney campaign from its inception has been his contention that the economy is in dismal shape and that it’s the President’s fault. Romney has said on numerous occasions that Obama may have inherited a troubled economy, but he made it worse. However, when asked by radio host Laura Ingraham about improving economic indicators he unflinchingly admitted “Well, of course it’s getting better. The economy always gets better after a recession.” Ingraham was stunned and gave Romney a second shot noting that he wasn’t helping his argument. Romney held firm saying “Have you got a better one, Laura? It just happens to be the truth.” Soon after, Romney returned to falsely accusing Obama of making things worse.

8) Hypocrisy On Terrorism: While running for the GOP nomination for president in 2007, Romney was asked by reporters if he agreed with comments by then-candidate Obama that if Osama bin Laden was discovered in Pakistan he would take action if the Pakistanis did not. Romney responded “I do not concur in the words of Barack Obama in a plan to enter an ally of ours.” Earlier this year, on the anniversary of the death of bin Laden, who was killed by American Special Forces in Pakistan, Romney diminished the President’s role by saying that “Anybody would have made that call.” Well…not anybody.

9) Hypocrisy On The Auto Bailout: Romney was a vocal opponent of the auto industry bailout orchestrated by the Obama administration. He famously wrote an op-ed for the New York Times with the title “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt. Fast forward a couple of years to a newly profitable and growing automobile industry and we find that Romney has shifted his position to one where he not only claims to have supported the bailout, but he considers himself responsible for its success. He told ABC News that “I’ll take a lot of credit for the fact that this industry’s come back.” That’s a little like Pontius Pilate taking credit for Jesus coming back.

10) Hypocrisy On Abortion: When Romney ran for the senate in Massachusetts in 1994, he claimed to support abortion rights and punctuated his commitment to that position with a story about a close relative who died as the result of an illegal abortion. In a debate with his opponent, Ted Kennedy, Romney referenced his family’s loss and said “It is since that time that my mother and my family have been committed to the belief that we can believe as we want, but we will not force our beliefs on others on that matter. And you will not see me wavering on that.” So Romney was once driven by his grief to make an unwavering commitment to never force his beliefs on others, but now he’s pushing for a Constitutional amendment to ban abortion. Is he through with grieving now? Is he comfortable with the grief that other families will suffer if his promise to repeal Roe v. Wade is fulfilled?

Hypocrisy and the Republican Party have never been far apart. They were the originators of the health care insurance mandate, but flipped to opposing it after it was proposed by a Democratic president. They supported the DREAM Act until Obama put it on the legislative agenda. Cap and trade was a GOP innovation. And the war hawks of the Republican right – Bush, Cheney, Rove, Boehner, Bolton, Limbaugh, Hannity, Kristol, Beck, etc. – never saw a day of combat. Mitt Romney, after protesting in favor of the draft to send other kids to Vietnam, avoided service via his Mormon missionary work in Paris, and received multiple academic deferments.

The lies that have been so freely disseminated by the right are a serious impediment to democracy, made worse by their arrogant persistence in lying even after having been exposed. But their hypocrisy is just as thickly applied and just as deceitful. It is emblematic of the character (or lack thereof) of the Republican Party and its spokespersons, including their leader, Mitt Romney.

Special Feature: Here are the runner-ups that didn’t make the top ten:

11) Hypocrisy On Socialism: The featured convention speeches by the Republican standard bearers contained some flowery language intended to motivate their delegates and sway voters watching at home. Some of their rhetoric, however, would not have been so well received if it had been offered by President Obama. On Wednesday Paul Ryan said that “We have responsibilities, one to another. We do not each face the world alone.” That was followed by Romney on Thursday saying “The America we know is the story of the many becoming one.” To some listeners those may sound like distinctly socialist sentiments. That sort of collectivist dialogue is commonly heard in leftist conclaves and union halls. All Obama had to say was that he favored “spreading the wealth around” and he was deemed an avid Marxist. For Rom-n-Ry to talk this way and not get branded as subversives is a bit surprising. Particularly when the Republican model of shared sacrifice is lower salaries for teachers, lower benefits for seniors, and lower taxes for millionaires.

Shared Sacrifice

12) Hypocrisy On Music: Paul Ryan, in an attempt to connect with a younger voting demographic, has lately been touting his rocker cred. He said that his favorite band is Rage Against the Machine. That prompted Rage guitarist Tom Morello to ask “I wonder what Ryan’s favorite Rage song is? Is it the one where we condemn the genocide of Native Americans? The one lambasting American imperialism? Our cover of ‘Fuck the Police’?” Then Ryan told the GOP conventioneers that his iPod was stoked with songs by “youth-oriented” artists like AC/DC and Led Zeppelin that an old-timer like Mitt Romney couldn’t appreciate. What he failed to note was that his playlist seems to be dominated by bands that debuted some 40 years ago and that Romney is younger than Zeppelin’s lead guitarist, Jimmy Page.

13) Hypocrisy On Immigration: A core part of the Fox News agenda is to demonize immigrants. Last month the Fox Nation web site featured a story about a sexual assault on a child with a headline that blared “Illegal Alien Charged with Raping 4-Year Old.” Of course, the immigration status of the alleged perpetrator is entirely irrelevant to the crime. Fox would never have published such a story identifying a white Protestant American in the headline, although that happens far more frequently. It is also interesting that Fox never posted a story with the headline “Fox News Reporter Charged with Sexual Assault on 4-year Old” when that occurred a few years ago.

14) Hypocrisy On Taxes: Mitt Romney has been campaigning mightily to disabuse voters of the notion that he is an out-of-touch multimillionaire who has benefited unfairly from his wealth and position. Nevertheless, he refuses to come clean about his taxes or his resume with Bain Capital. Part of the reason he chose Paul Ryan to join his ticket was to divert attention from these questions that have been hounding him on the campaign trail. However, he may not get the reaction he hopes. Ryan’s budget plan includes the elimination of capital gains taxes, and since that is almost the entire source of Romney’s income, it would reduce his already low (13.9%) tax rate to nearly zero (0.82%).

15) Hypocrisy On Medicare: The charge from Democrats that the Romney/Ryan Medicare plan will end the program as we know it has rankled the Romney campaign. They respond by saying that no one over the age of 55 will be affected by their reforms. Setting aside for the moment the ludicrous notion that seniors would be happy knowing that only their children would suffer the loss of benefits, Romney’s plan to repeal ObamaCare would immediately end prescription drug benefits and access to preventative care that today’s seniors are currently receiving.

And sadly, this list is still incomplete.

The Top Eight Fox News Election Lies In Just The Last Eight Weeks

Mitt Romney - Original BanksterWith the election season fully in bloom, the aroma of deceit and desperation is growing more pungent by the hour. Mitt Romney, The Original Bankster, continues to be evasive about his international business affairs, and he refuses to release more than a single year of tax returns in order to quell speculation. His electoral prospects have not been noticeably enhanced with the addition of Wisconsin congressman, and extremist right-winger, Paul Ryan to the ticket. Consequently, the GOP PR machine (aka Fox News) has swung into action to attempt to cauterize the wounds and manufacture some positive spin on behalf of the struggling Republican standard bearers.

The most effective contribution of the Fox spinners is their expertise in disseminating brazenly dishonest propaganda without shame or fear of reprisal. They construct fabrications that benefit their patrons and broadcast them to an audience that is so undiscriminating that they’ll watch Sean Hannity more than once. And since the majority of rational news consumers will never see much of what Fox works so hard to invent, we have complied a list of some of the most dishonest moments so far in the 2012 election cycle. [Note: in order to pare this list down to a manageable length, it has been limited to just just the last eight weeks. There’s only so much bandwidth on the Internet]

1) President Obama Did Not Call Mitt Romney A Felon
Mitt Romney claims that he had ceased to be involved with Bain Capital in 1999, although his signature on SEC documents affirms that he was the sole shareholder and CEO as late as 2002. Obama’s Deputy Campaign Manager, Stephanie Cutter, pointed out that Romney had to have lied on either the SEC forms or his public statements that contradict them. Fox News turned that into an accusation by Obama that Romney is a felon. However, there is a big difference between calling someone a felon and simply noting that if one were to commit a felony they would be a felon, which is all that Cutter had done. But Fox is not inclined to miss an opportunity to invent a controversy where none actually exists.

2) Fox News Built That
In a speech to supporters in Virginia, Obama praised the hard work of individuals and businesses while also noting the collective value of American investment in economic prosperity. So Fox News plucked an out-of-context soundbite from the speech that said “If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that.” What Fox deliberately left out was that Obama was referring to public services like teachers and police, and to infrastructure like roads and bridges that contribute to the success of all businesses. It’s a position that Romney himself has taken. However, Fox News blew this distortion up into such a frenzy that the Romney campaign adopted it and now have made the Fox-built fallacy the theme for the GOP convention in Tampa. [Note: The GOP convention is being held in the Tampa Bay Forum, a facility that was built with mostly public funds]

The tactic of taking quotes out of context has been a favorite of the Fox News gang this year. They did precisely the same thing with remarks Obama made about the economy (the private sector is doing fine) and his record in office (we tried our plan and it worked). In both cases Fox left out critical language surrounding these remarks that revealed just how purposefully dishonest the Fox News team is.

3) The Swift-Boating Of President Obama
Fox News has proudly announced the commencement of a Swiftboat campaign against President Obama. The organization set up to carry out the assault is described as “A group of former U.S. intelligence and Special Forces operatives,” but in reality is a partisan assembly of Republicans and professional Obama haters. The Special Operations OPSEC Education Fund (SOOEF) plans to produce and distribute videos and advertisements that will criticize Obama for “taking credit for the killing of Osama bin Laden.” This is an archetypical implementation of Swiftboating whose purpose is to spread lies about a key achievement of Obama’s leadership as Commander-in-Chief.

The assertions by the SOOEF that Obama has improperly heralded himself for the demise of Bin Laden are demonstrably false. Their video features gross misrepresentations of Obama’s statements on the subject that loop portions of his speech referencing himself, but leaves out his abundant praise for the military and intelligence operatives who carried out the mission. The opening line of the President’s address to the nation announcing that Bin Laden was dead explicitly and unselfishly stated that “the United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden.” He went on to thank “the countless intelligence and counterterrorism professionals who’ve worked tirelessly to achieve this outcome,” and he praised “the men who carried out this operation, for they exemplify the professionalism, patriotism, and unparalleled courage of those who serve our country.”

None of that was in the SOOEF video which Fox has featured in numerous broadcasts. What’s more, Fox actually uses the term “Swiftboating” to describe the anti-Obama campaign. Either they have completely given up on trying to pretend that they are a “fair and balanced” news enterprise (which no one believes anyway), or they don’t know that Swiftboating means lying.

4) Fox Nation Ignores Polls By CNN, Reuters, And — Fox News
Virtually every time a new poll on presidential politics is released Fox News will make a point to publish the results – so long as the poll shows Obama losing. In a particularly egregious example of this bias earlier this month, Fox prominently reported on a poll by the right-wing Rasmussen operation that placed Mitt Romney in the lead 47-43. What Fox neglected to report was that there were three other polls released at the same time that all put Obama ahead. And the most striking part of this omission was that one of the polls that Fox declined to cover was conducted by Fox News itself and put Obama ahead of Romney by nine points.

Fox couldn’t even bring themselves to report on their own poll conducted by their own pollsters. That’s the sort of biased cherry-picking that is the hallmark of Fox’s “news” charade. And it’s a crystal clear message to pollsters from Fox: If you want to be covered, you better say what we like. And that goes for Fox’s pollsters as well.

5) Welfare-To-Work Rules Were Not Weakened By the Obama Administration
The Romney campaign recently accused Obama of directing his administration to relax the welfare-to-work provisions of Bill Clinton’s welfare reform bill. That accusation is directly refuted by the facts. What Obama did was to permit waivers for states that could affirm their progress in moving people from welfare to work, and allowing them flexibility to enhance their programs. It’s a modification that Romney himself had requested when he was governor of Massachusetts. Nevertheless, Fox News picked up the accusation and ran with it. In every segment on the subject they portrayed the issue precisely as Romney had framed it despite every fact-checking operation concluding that Romney’s charges were entirely false.

And speaking of fact-checking, Romney has been rated untruthful 67 times by PolitiFact, and 14 of those were “Pants-on-Fire” lies (including the welfare lie). In fact, 43% of PolitiFact’s findings on statements by Romney are rated as untruthful. He’s downright pathological, but Fox has not yet reported that fact.

6) Obama Did Not Sell Amnesty For $465.00
After Obama issued a directive to the Department of Homeland Security not to advance the deportation of young immigrants who had been brought to this country by their parents and who had demonstrated achievement in school or the military, there was a rush of dishonest reporting from Fox News that Obama was placating law breakers and opening our borders to criminals, drug traffickers, and terrorists. Of course, none of that was true. News reports from more objective sources correctly noted that the beneficiaries of the program had broken no laws and that the public overwhelmingly supported the President’s plan.

After the initial drama subsided, Fox News decided to take another stab at promoting their false narrative. They began running reports alleging that Obama was “selling amnesty” to illegal aliens. What Fox was grossly misrepresenting was that the program had an application fee to help offset its costs. One would think that deficit minded conservatives would have approved of that fiscal responsibility. But Fox chose to present it as the purchase price for amnesty even though no one in the program would receive amnesty.

7) Soldiers Were Not Prevented From Voting In Ohio
The issue of voter suppression has been a major factor in this years election contests. In states across the country Republicans have been working strenuously to reduce early voting availability and impose unreasonable identification requirements that serve to disenfranchise mostly voters who are minorities, seniors, students, and low income. But perhaps the worst example of distorting the issue occurred when Fox News accused the Obama administration of seeking to trample on the voting rights of people in the military.

The actual story is that the Republicans in the state of Ohio passed a bill that reduced early voting for everyone in the state except the military. The Obama Justice Department contested the move arguing that the same early voting privileges should be available to all Ohio voters. So the Obama administration was actually advocating for expanding voting rights for everyone, including veterans who would have been excluded under the GOP bill. The characterization by Fox News was 180% opposite of the truth.

8) Fox News Reports Obama Birth Certificate “Definitely Fraudulent”
In a stunning piece of journalistic malpractice, Fox News reported assertions that Obama’s birth certificate was “definitely fraudulent.” The remarks were from Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio, and while they were correctly attributed, nowhere in the article did Fox note that the birth certificate had been authenticated and that every credible source agrees that it is valid. The only references to the birth certificate’s authenticity were framed as merely “claims.” And Fox being “fair and balanced” regards all claims as having equal weight, even those without any substance to back them up.

Pray for Fox NewsThis is a necessarily abridged collection of Fox falsehoods. There are far too many more to list here. But in the last eight weeks Fox News has disseminated some glaring whoppers in an attempt to prop up the flailing Romney campaign. Expect this to continue through the upcoming conventions and straight through to November. Because when you are supporting a candidate who refuses to reveal his taxes, his business history, or even his proposed policies, all you have left is what you can make up.

Fox News Flim-Flam: Conning Latinos For Politics And Profit

This article was also published on Alternet.

The reputation for Fox News as a brazenly biased, right-wing, mouthpiece for the Republican Party and a conservative agenda is well-established. From their upper-management (Rupert Murdoch, Roger Ailes) to their frontline anchors (Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity), they have forged a network that has entirely abandoned any pretense of impartiality.

That well-honed partisan prejudice has proven to be useful in poisoning the political discourse. Fox News has exploited their audience to favor GOP candidates and sway perceptions of complex issues like health care, economics, and the environment. Amongst the most prominent of the issues that Fox has sought to distort is immigration. Their reporting is relentless in falsely portraying immigrants as shiftless lawbreakers who steal jobs from American citizens and drain the nation of scarce public resources.

Fox viewers are accustomed to stories about “illegals” swarming across the border to take up residency in the U.S. and sponge off of our prosperity. They are vilified as criminals and blamed for everything from disease to the recession. There is hardly a mention of immigrants on Fox that isn’t associated with drunkenness, joblessness, or drug cartels.

Lately, however, someone at Fox News has recognized a major flaw in their strategy to demonize immigrants, particularly Latinos. One of the fastest growing segments of the U.S. population happens to be legal Latinos who are either naturalized or natural-born citizens. The U.S. Census bureau reports that the Hispanic population grew at about four times the nation’s average growth rate between 2000 and 2010. The report notes that “the Hispanic population increased by 15.2 million between 2000 and 2010 and accounted for more than half of the total U.S. population increase of 27.3 million.”

The problem for Fox News, and their ideological benefactors, is that these are citizens who can vote and are registering in record numbers. This is particularly noticeable in states that are crucial for Republican electoral victories like Nevada, Arizona, and Florida. But the trend is evident in some measure throughout the country.

This situation poses a disconcerting problem for Fox. How do they maintain their editorial animosity toward immigrants without alienating an increasingly important voter group? The answer appears to be by developing news content specifically for this demographic and sequestering it from the rest of their viewership.

First to appear in this vein was the Fox News Latino web site. It is an English language adjunct to the Fox News site with content aimed directly at the Latino reader. However, the treatment of news events on Fox News Latino is markedly different from that on Fox News. Here are a few typical examples:

June 15, 2012: In response to President Obama’s announcement of a policy shift wherein certain young immigrants would be granted work permits rather than be deported, the Fox News Latino web site posted a story headlined, “Obama Administration Halts Deportations for Young Immigrants.” That’s a factually accurate description that treats the news in a neutral manner. The headline was accompanied by a sympathetic photo of a young Latina child draped with an American flag.

However, on Fox Nation they went with the headline “Obama Administration Bypasses Congress, To Give Immunity, Stop Deporting Younger Illegals.” In that short sentence they managed to imply impropriety on the part of the administration, infer the controversial subject of amnesty, and insult Latinos by employing the dehumanizing label of “illegals” (even though the people affected by this initiative did not break any law). The photo accompanying this article was of adult Latinos sitting up against a wall in handcuffs.

Fox Nation Bias

It is also notable that the Fox News Latino site posted the Associated Press article about the announcement in full. The Fox Nationalists posted only two paragraphs plus a video from Fox News of right-wing wacko Allen West expressing his outrage. This is further evidence that the Fox Nationalists want to avoid giving their dimwitted readers too much actual information, but prefer to throw up as much ultra-right-wing opinion as possible.

June 19, 2012: Bloomberg released a poll that showed that 64 percent of likely voters favor Obama’s policy on suspending deportations of certain younger immigrants. Note that this substantial majority is of “likely” voters, not just Latino voters. So the story has relevance to a wide range of news viewers and could even be an important predictor of who will win the presidency in November. Nevertheless, Fox News did not run this story. Fox Nation did not run this story. The only Fox destination where you can read this story is on Fox News Latino. So Fox is deliberately hiding from the rest of their audience the news that a substantial majority of Americans agree with this policy.

What’s more, the tone of the reporting is distinctly different from that on other Fox properties. There isn’t a hint of hostility toward immigrants. The story accurately refers to “prosecutorial discretion” as the means of carrying out the policy, rather than the false assertions of Executive Orders or dictatorial overreach that appear on Fox News. The derogatory phrase “illegals,” used routinely on Fox News, is nowhere in the story, having been replaced by “undocumented immigrant.” The story notes correctly that Congress, not the President, had dropped the ball on the DREAM Act and that it was Republicans who filibustered it out of existence. These are news insights that will never be seen by the broader Fox audience unless they happen to read Fox News Latino.

June 25, 2012: Fox News covered the Supreme Court ruling on the controversial Arizona law against undocumented immigrants in its uniquely racist way by tailoring the story differently to different audiences. On Fox News Latino the headline accurately reported that the “Court Strikes Down Most of AZ Immig Law.” However, on Fox Nation they went with the misleading, “U.S. Supreme Court Upholds Controversial Part of Tough Arizona Immigration Law.” Even Fox News was more balanced by saying that the “Supreme Court Reigns In Arizona On Immigration.”

Fox News Bias

Here we have one arm of Fox reporting that the law was struck down, and another arm saying it was upheld. So once again Fox panders to their Latino audience on the web site aimed at them, while slanting steeply in the opposite direction on Fox Nation, a community of such rancid bigotry that Fox had to close the comments section for fear of the vile postings that frequently occur. Obviously, Fox knows its audience.

July 8, 2012: The Fox News Latino web site featured an article from the Associated Press on the issue of voter suppression that was reported in a manner that respects the truth. The author correctly notes that instances of in-person voter fraud are nearly non-existent, but that the photo-ID laws advanced by Republicans will disenfranchise thousands of eligible voters.

On Fox News the typical approach to this story is the ludicrous assertion that opponents of ID laws are proponents of fraud, even though they can never cite actual incidents of fraud. The purpose is obvious. Fox News is working in concert with the GOP to purge Democrats from the voter rolls. However, on Fox’s Latino-focused web site the story is completely different. It is treated with the proper attention to the harm that would befall Latino voters.

In addition to the Fox News Latino web site, Fox recently announced that they are launching a new Spanish language broadcast television network, MundoFox. The network will feature both entertainment and news programming, but their initial press release states that they “will not have any association with Fox News Channel.” It also quotes the Senior VP of news, Jorge Mettey, describing the type of viewer they intend to attract in a particularly derogatory light:

“We are not focusing on the regular normal issues that newscasts in Spanish focus on, like immigration and that stuff. It is not our focus. We are talking to a different Latino. We are not talking to victims. We are talking to successful people eager to improve their lives.”

Apparently Mettey regards “regular normal” Latinos as victims who are uninterested in improving their lives, and he doesn’t want any of “them” watching his network. MundoFox is getting off to a great start by insulting a fair portion of their potential audience. This aggressive posturing is actually typical of the way Fox has launched all of their networks. When announcing Fox News as being “fair and balanced” they were implying that the other networks were not merely competitors, but that they were untrustworthy. When they launched the Fox Business Network they bragged that “a Fox channel would be ‘more business-friendly’ than CNBC.” Although it doesn’t really make much sense for a network that is supposed to be reporting objectively, for the benefit of people making investment decisions, to declare that they intend for their coverage to be friendly.

It is also notable that Mettey, has a somewhat checkered past. He was fired from his position as news director at KMEX in 2007, amidst allegations of ethical breaches. The Los Angeles Times reported that…

“The alleged improprieties investigated included whether Mettey had benefited financially from coverage of Puebla’s governor at a time when he was being criticized for his association with an accused pedophile and of an African-themed zoo in Puebla in which Mettey’s wife, Denise, has an ownership interest. In addition, the news division allegedly accepted free tickets on an Aeromexico flight from Los Angeles International Airport to Puebla.”

With the expansion into the Latino community, Fox is reaching out to connect with a new audience. In the process they are conducting themselves in an uncharacteristically fair and balanced manner. Make no mistake, there are good reasons for this atypical behavior on the part of Fox, and it isn’t just the immense economic opportunity (although that is certainly a factor). Roger Ailes, Fox News CEO, was a Republican strategist and media consultant before launching Fox with Rupert Murdoch. Ailes knows that Republicans have a demographics problem as Latinos continue to grow as a percentage of the population and, therefore, the electorate. The Tea Party dominated GOP can’t see past their prejudices and frothing immigrant hatred. But Ailes knows that if the party doesn’t win back some Latino support they will be a minority party for decades to come.

So with Fox News Latino and MundoFox, Ailes is doing for the party what they are too stupid to do for themselves – pandering to the Latino vote. They think they can segregate the reporting so that their Latino audience will see stories that are framed positively, while the rest of the Fox universe remains steeped in the animus of bigots and conservative partisans. It’s a cynical ploy that could only be hatched by people who think that Latinos are stupid enough to fall for it. Fortunately, that’s where Fox is most likely going to be proved wrong.

Update: Media Matters just posted a similar article with quotes from Latino leaders expressing their skepticism of Fox’s Latino news coverage and motives.

Update II: They’ve done it again. Fox News Latino published an article about emails revealed during an ACLU litigation that expose the racial hatred of former Arizona senate president Russell Pearce (author of the controversial immigration law). But a cursory search of Fox News did not turn up any reporting on this shocking story. However, I eventually found a re-posting of an Associated Press article on the subject buried in Fox’s “SciTech” section. That’s right – “SciTech,” not “News” or “Politics” – is where Fox posts an article about a legal challenge to a politician’s immigration law that is littered with racist remarks. So Fox makes this information available to their Fox News Latino readers, but clumsily tries to hide it from the rest of their audience.

Fox News Latino

Dumb Question: Is The Tea Party Making Congress Dumber?

The Sunlight Foundation just released the results of a study that measures the scholastic grade level of speeches made by members of congress. The scale uses the Flesch-Kincaid test and is based on the length of words and sentences used. Among their findings are that…

“Congress now speaks at almost a full grade level lower than it did just seven years ago, with the most conservative members of Congress speaking on average at the lowest grade level.”

The study further found that it is the “most extreme members” who speak at the lowest grade levels, as well as the most junior. A major turning point was the election of 2010 that saw the introduction of a wave of new Tea Party Republicans to congress. Of the 20 lowest scoring members, 17 were Republicans, and twelve of those are in their first term of office. You have to go down to the 15th place before you find a Democrat.

So is this significant in any way? There are varying perspectives from which to interpret this study. On the surface it could be viewed as evidence that the intellectual capacity of the congress is declining due to the neanderthal behavior of the new Tea Party members who speak in short bursts of small words. That would be consistent with their shallow grasp of most issues and their tendency to reduce every discussion to a battle between liberty and socialism (drilling everywhere = liberty; clean air = socialism).

On the other hand, it could be said that concise expression makes communication more effective and accessible. There is an art to editing and being able to speak with an eloquent simplicity can be both more desirable and more persuasive. Advertisers know this and build their marketing campaigns on logos and slogans that communicate ideas and emotions quickly and succinctly. Political campaign managers and propagandists (but I repeat myself) know it as well.

So the fact that members of congress are speaking at lower grade levels may be an indication of either creeping ignorance or enhanced manipulation. For a specific perspective on this that may help decide which interpretation ought to prevail, let’s take a look at how Fox News characterized a similar study that also used the Flesch-Kincaid method to score President Obama’s State of the Union speech a few months ago. Their headline, declaring that Obama’s speech was written at an 8th grade level, hovered above a picture of a boy in a dunce cap:

Fox Nation

OK then. If Fox thinks that Obama is a dunce because his State of the Union speech scored low on the test, then they must also regard all of these Tea Party representatives as dunces. And for that they have some justification. Perhaps this language analysis isn’t the perfect measure of intelligence or effectiveness in government, so let’s take a look at some of the things they’ve actually said and done and judge them on that. Here are the ten lowest scoring members in the study with some examples of the brilliance that helped them achieve this honor:

Mick Mulvaney (R-SC): Mulvaney is the co-author of the Cut, Cap, and Balance bill that has been at the center of the debate on raising the debt ceiling. The bill would impose stiff reductions, mostly to programs that fund economic growth and aid to the poor. It would also cap spending for entitlement programs and call for a constitutional amendment to balance the budget. Mulvaney is one of those extremists who would rather see the U.S. default on their debts and suffer a credit rating downgrade than reform the tax code to be more equitable and stop favoring the wealthy.

Rob Woodall (R-GA): Woodall once advised a constituent on Medicare that she should reject the government-provided plan and secure her health insurance on the private market. However, when asked why he refused to reject the health plan provided to him by congress he said simply, “Because it’s free.” Then, to cement the impression that he is focused solely on his own welfare and special privileges for congressmen, he was one of only two votes against the STOCK Act that prohibited members of congress from engaging in insider trading.

Rand Paul (R-KY): The son of cranky Libertarian Ron Paul, Rand is such a strong advocate of the free market that he opposes the parts of the Civil Rights Act that prohibit businesses from engaging in discrimination. He believes so firmly in personal responsibility that he wanted to let BP off the hook after their oil rig exploded killing eleven workers and flooding the gulf with toxins. He called criticism of BP “really un-American.” More recently, he said of Obama’s support for same-sex marriage, “Call me cynical, but I didn’t think his views on marriage could get any gayer.”

Sean Duffy (R-WI): At a town hall meeting in Wisconsin, Duffy was asked whether he’d vote to cut his $174,000 congressional salary. He proceeded to whine about how $174,000 really isn’t that much: “I guarantee that I have more debt than all of you. With 6 kids, I still pay off my student loans. I still pay my mortgage.” Sounds like he could benefit from Obama’s proposals to reform mortgage and student loan debt.

Tim Griffin (R-AR): A few years ago there was a scandal in Bush’s Justice Department when it was revealed that they fired several U.S. Attorneys for political reasons. Then, to make matters worse, they filled the vacancies with cronies and partisan patrons. One of those terminated was the U.S. Attorney in Arkansas. His hand-picked replacement was a Karl Rove protege named Tim Griffin.

Todd Akin (R-MO): Last year Akin appeared on the radio program of Family Research Council President Tony Perkins. That would ordinarily be enough to dismiss him as a fringe-dweller, but Akin took the opportunity to broadcast his opinion that “The heart of liberalism really is a hatred for God and a belief that government should replace God.” Akin was also the sponsor of a bill to prohibit courts from hearing legal challenges to the Pledge of Allegiance – an ironic attempt to unconstitutionally elevate congress over the judiciary in order to suppress “liberty and justice for all.”

Vicky Hartzler (R-MO): Like many Tea Party Republicans, Hartzler has expressed doubts about Obama’s citizenship. When questioned about the birth certificate the President released she said “You know, I have a lot of doubts about all that. But I don’t know, I haven’t seen it.” She also opposes same-sex marriage with the old slippery slope argument that associates it with polygamy and pedophilia. She asks, “Why not allow one man and two women or three women to marry? […] Why not allow a 50-year-old man to marry a 12-year-old girl if they love each other and they are committed?”

Tom Graves (R-GA): Graves’ obsession with limiting government is so severe that he voted against bills that would provide organizations that work with children easier access to a federal database so they could screen job applicants for criminal records. But then his grasp of legislation is somewhat faulty. With regard to funding for oil subsidies, he declared them to be a “manipulation of the market place” shortly after voting twice to extend them.

David Schweikert (R-AZ): Perhaps the poster child for this list is Rep. Schweikert who was asked a question about the health insurance mandate provision in the Affordable Care Act, and whether he thought it was fair that prior to the ACA someone could incur medical expenses but not pay for them, raising the cost of health care for everyone else. He responded that “you have the right as an American to be dumb.” And he is fully exercising his rights.

Ron Johnson (R-WI): Johnson has been a harsh critic of the government stimulus bills. But somehow that didn’t stop him from seeking stimulus funds for renovations to the Grand Opera House when he was president of the venue’s board. His explanation when asked to justify the apparent hypocrisy was that “he may have asked a question or two, but that doesn’t mean he supports the stimulus effort or even wanted the money.” Of course not. He was just curious to see if they would hand over the cash, which he would have promptly returned.

The question of whether or not a low score is indicative of low intelligence is still open. Republican pollster and word doctor Frank Luntz spins the results by contending that “It’s not an issue of dumbing it down; it’s an issue of cleaning it up.” But that interpretation only seems to be applicable for Republicans who score poorly. It’s also pure Luntzian meme surgery from the man that calls clear-cutting “healthy forests.”

These ten members of congress, who grace the bottom of the list, were rated as speaking at 7th to 8th grade levels (scoring between 7.95 and 8.62). Eight of them are 1st term Tea Partiers. Is it a coincidence that their work in office reflects the arrogance, selfishness, and resistance to compromise and teamwork that sometimes accompanies the immaturity of youth? When Fox News reported, they decided that that Obama’s low score (8.4) meant that he was a dunce. However, most of these members of congress scored even lower. So by Fox’s standard these members are even dumber, which places them squarely in the Fox audience demographic that studies have shown are more misinformed than consumers of news from other sources.

Full disclosure: This article scored a 10.35 on the Flesch-Kincaid scale.

The Punisher: Mitt Romney Laughably Says Obama Is Intent On Punishing People

A few days ago President Obama delivered a speech in which he reminded his audience that everyone who succeeds in America has done so with the help of other Americans. We are all mutually dependent on the resources and civic projects that keep this country humming. The President made the point that even he was a beneficiary of the social and economic collective advancement that’s historically been a part of our nation’s framework. He noted that “Somebody gave me an education. I wasn’t born with a silver spoon in my mouth. Michelle wasn’t. But somebody gave us a chance.” However, in the past few decades, something changed in our country. As Dylan Ratigan says in his book Greedy Bastards

“[S]omething has gone wrong in America. For the last few decades, the rising tide has been lifting only the yachts. Almost anywhere you look, if you just open your eyes, you will see ordinary, hardworking people struggling. Not far away you’ll find a few greedy bastards making out like bandits. What defines greedy bastards? It’s not merely that they’re rich. […] Greedy bastards have given up on creating value for others and instead get their money by rigging the game so that they can steal from the rest of us.”

That’s the heart, and what passes for the soul of Mitt Romney, who somehow extracted an interpretation of the President’s words that led to the absurd criticism that, “This is a president more intent on punishing people than he is on building our economy.” However, when even a cursory examination of the facts is made, it’s clear that it is Romney who is The Punisher. His policies, if enacted, will punish a broad spectrum of Americans from almost every possible constituent group. For instance…

Despite telling representatives of Planned Parenthood that he supported Roe v. Wade when he was running for governor of Massachusetts, he now says that he believes that life begins at conception and that the historic Supreme Court ruling should be overturned. And while the health care plan he implemented as governor included coverage for abortions and contraception, he is now fervently opposed to such coverage. He has also expressed his opposition to the Lilly Ledbetter Act that Obama signed in order to assist women seeking equal pay and relief from workplace discrimination.

Earlier this year Romney famously declared that he is “not concerned about the very poor [because] We have a safety net there.” Clearly Romney has never had to avail himself of the services provided to those reliant on the safety net, or he might be a little more concerned. He might also not have developed a tax plan that would further cut taxes for the wealthy while raising them for lower income citizens.

Once again, Romney let his true feeling be known when he gushed that he “like[s] being able to fire people.” That being the case, it is no wonder that he regards unions as impediments to his goals. He blames unions for many of the nation’s economic problems and promised a policy to forbid union preferences in federal contracting beginning on his inauguration day.

Romney is adamantly opposed to same-sex marriage and open homosexuality in the armed services. This is another position that conflicts his record in Massachusetts where in 1994 he campaigned for a senate seat saying that he would be even an stronger advocate of gay rights than Ted Kennedy.

Romney considers Michigan, where his father was once governor, one of his many home states. Nevertheless, he was so against a stimulus package for the auto industry that he publicly stated his preference that they should be allowed to go bankrupt. The stimulus was provided by the Obama administration and today GM has retaken its position as the number one car manufacturer in the world. And that was achieved with no help from Romney who even traveled around the country giving speeches that disparaged the company’s products, particularly the Chevy Volt which now receives high praise from industry experts and consumers.

Romney has staked out an extremist position on immigration that will not endear him to Latinos. He has called Arizona’s SB1070, a law that nearly criminalizes being brown-skinned, “a model for the nation.” Romney opposes the DREAM Act that would establish residency for immigrants who came to the United States as children and then served in the military or completed college. But a Romney administration would expect these, and all immigrants, to self-deport.

If you are 65 years old, or ever expect to be, Romney is intent on making your golden years somewhat less shiny. He advocates raising the retirement age to eligible for Social Security benefits. He supports moving funds into private accounts that would fluctuate with the uncertainties of the stock market. And he has proposed tying increases to the Consumer Price Index rather than the Wage Index, which would significantly undercut the purchasing power of seniors dependent on a fixed income.

For anyone concerned about the rights granted by Supreme Court decisions, Romney carries a frighteningly extreme portfolio. He has said that would nominate judges like Roberts, Alito, and Scalia to the bench. But even more disturbing, he recently brought on Robert Bork as his new top legal adviser. Bork was the man behind the “Saturday Night Massacre” where two Justice Department leaders resigned rather than fire the Special Prosecutor investigating Watergate. It was Bork who stayed and carried out Nixon’s orders. Bork also once called the Civil Rights Act of 1964 “a principle of unsurpassed ugliness.”

Three words: Drill baby drill. Romney is a staunch advocate of exploiting fossil fuels on land and at sea. He is a critic of off-shore oil bans and a supporter the KeystoneXL pipeline that risks contaminating ground water in order to enrich refineries who intend to ship the oil products overseas. Although he has said that he believes that global warming exists and the it may be caused by human activity, he is opposed to addressing the problem with regulations that he believes would impair economic growth. Because economic growth is more important than having a planet on which to grow.

10. DOGS:
Just ask Seamus, the poor Irish Setter who was forced to ride in a cage on the roof of the family station wagon while on a 600 mile road trip.

Mitt Romney has a resume and an agenda that promises pain for average Americans. He would increase the financial burdens of the poor, reduce the protection of agencies that monitor everything from Wall Street to toxins in foods. He respects only wealth and, consequently, has assembled a program that could be called Trickle-Down on Steroids. Yet he has the audacity to accuse President Obama of wanting to punish people simply because the President’s plan asks billionaires to pay a few percentage points more on their wildly extravagant income.

Romney thinks it’s punishment to return to the tax rates of the 90s when the economy was booming, but he can’t comprehend the punishment of millions of families losing their homes, thousands of students losing their grants, innumerable sick people unable to get necessary treatment, or communities across the nation being exploited by greedy corporations and politicians like Romney. In Romney’s world it is better to protect one American millionaire than a million Americans. It’s the code of the Greedy Bastards.

Mitt Romney - The Punisher