The Texas legal system delivered a sort of poetic justice yesterday when a grand jury handed down an indictment of David Daleiden, the founder of the anti-choice Center for Medical Progress (CMP), and his associate Sandra Merritt. The charges included “tampering with a governmental record” and “illegally offer[ing] to purchase human organs.” At the same time the grand jury cleared Planned Parenthood of any wrongdoing.
What’s surprising about this is that the grand jury was impaneled by a Republican District Attorney, who was appointed by a Republican governor, with the express purpose of going after Planned Parenthood for offences that were alleged in the deceptively edited CMP videos. From the very beginning Planned Parenthood and independent media demonstrated that the videos were flagrantly fraudulent in their depiction of the women’s health organization. And the members of the grand jury obviously agreed.
Since this news broke, conservative media has reacted with indignant fury declaring that justice was subverted by some undisclosed evil force. Never mind that the anti-choice activists were the ones who pushed for the probe and got everything they asked for in terms of its implementation. Now they are complaining that the charges against CMP are “a political hit job.” Those are exactly the words of Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly and their resident legal spinner Judge Andrew Napolitano:
Kelly: Now Judge, what does this mean? Napolitano: This means that a political prosecutor has injected herself in a very serious issue about whether or not Planned Parenthood was profiting from the abortion of babies by selling body parts. […] Kelly: So does this sound like a political hit job? Or what is this? Napolitano: Absolutely. This is a political hit job.
They would actually be right if they were talking about why the grand jury was impaneled in the first place. But they have no rational argument for that accusation about the conclusion. It was their case, with their people, but unfortunately for them, the facts weren’t on their side.
What’s more, every federal, congressional, and state investigation into this matter has cleared Planned Parenthood. That includes many agencies in conservative states with Republican governors. Media Matters has been tracking these legal outcomes from the following authorities (so far): U.S. Dept. Of Health And Human Services, Massachusetts Attorney General, Indiana Department of Health, South Dakota Attorney General, Georgia Department of Public Health, Pennsylvania Secretary of Health, Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration, Missouri Attorney General, Washington State Attorney General, and Kansas State Board of Healing Arts.
The spectacle of having a Republican generated grand jury return indictments against the parties who sought the investigation isn’t really that surprising considering the sordid history of these particular scoundrels. CMP cut their pseudo-journalistic teeth with the notoriously dishonest video hack, James O’Keefe. The legal misadventures of O’Keefe include his having been arrested and convicted for nefarious activities in the office of a U.S. senator. He was also forced to pay a $100,000 judgement to an ACORN employee that he defamed. When a right-wing group tried to get Texas to investigate allegations of voter registration fraud the prosecutors examined O’Keefe’s video “evidence” and concluded that it “was little more than a canard and political disinformation.”
This is the predictable result of biased activists masquerading as reporters in order to produce the propaganda necessary to advance their dishonest agenda. They have no respect for journalism or ethical reporting. They are tightly focused on defaming their targets to achieve their purely political goals. And now it is clear that they are so determined to push their campaign of lies that they will violate the law to do so. Fortunately, at least this time, they got caught and are going to suffer the consequences.
With all of the media attention tightly focused on San Bernardino’s conjugal killers, you may have forgotten about a little pseudo-scandal that was previously the foremost fetish of Fox News and other right-wing media. Driven from the front pages was the Benghazi affair that had been the cudgel with which Fox News was beating up on Hillary Clinton for the past couple of years. Well, it’s back.
Thanks to the release of an email obtained by the rightist muckrakers at Judicial Watch, Fox News is once again satisfying its lust for the Libyan outpost that was attacked in 2012. And even though every investigation, including those conducted by Republicans in Congress, has found no wrongdoing by Clinton, President Obama, or any other government official, the obsession to cultivate a narrative that indicts Clinton for imaginary crimes remains in effect.
The email that is stirring the Benghazi stew is reported to be from the Defense Department to Clinton’s deputy chief of staff. Fox is claiming that it contradicts testimony made to Congress by former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta. The email said in part…
“We have identified the forces that could move to Benghazi. They are spinning up as we speak.”
From that snippet, and absent any of the sort of research that real journalists do, Fox News immediately designated the email a “Smoking Gun” It was covered on Fox & Friends by former Survivor contestant Elisabeth Hasselbeck and retired judge Andrew Napolitano:
Hasselbeck: A newly released email from the Pentagon may be the smoking gun in the Benghazi investigation. The email addressed to top aides of Hillary Clinton shows the United States military was gearing up to respond to the Benghazi terror attacks. A message from then-Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta’s chief of staff reads this, quote, “We have identified the forces that could move into Benghazi. They are spinning up as we speak,” end quote. The email contradicts statements made by Panetta, who told the Senate after the attack that there was no time to get forces to Libya to try to save the people there. It now looks like the only thing standing between the terrorists who overran the compound and the four Americans who lost their lives was a green light from the State Department. Fox News senior judicial analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano is here with reaction. This is big.
Napolitano: This is huge. And it’s extremely troublesome for the Obama administration today and for Mrs. Clinton.
Actually, this is just another in a long string of symptoms that can only be attributed to Smoking Gun Delirium Disorder. And every instance of Fox’s alleged smoking guns has turned out to be shooting soap bubbles. In this case it doesn’t take much work to determine that this email has no real significance. It does nothing to contradict Panetta’s testimony, in fact, it affirms it. Panetta explicitly cited the same military resources identified in the email when he appeared before Congress. And while Fox says that there was no response, the facts show that there were military deployments. However, neither his testimony nor the email indicates that the military response could come in time to intervene in the attack.
There is no doubt that this new smoking gun will suffer the same fate as all the others. Despite their desperate yearning for some nuclear fallout to land on Obama and/or Clinton, Fox News will come away disappointed. But that will not dissuade them from continuing to throw mud at the objects of their hate. They know that their audience will only retain the misinformation that was broadcast. And that’s because they drop the subject after it fails to advance their narrative. That’s why you haven’t heard about Benghazi since the last false email story. And it’s why you hear about it from Fox now that this story has been debunked.
This evening’s news that a New York grand jury could not find cause to indict a police officer, despite having video of him choking the victim, Eric Garner, is calling into question (again) the inadequate and unfair administration of justice as it is applied to African-Americans and other minorities.
This outcome is inexplicable. It is such a shocking miscarriage of justice that even some of the most stalwart conservatives are having trouble coming to terms with it. For starters, Bill O’Reilly said that Garner “did not deserve what happened to him.” And many of his colleagues on Fox News agreed.
Bill O’Reilly: Upon seeing the video that you just saw and hearing Mr. Garner say he could not breathe, I was extremely troubled. I would have loosened my grip.
Charles Krauthammer: From looking at the video, the grand jury’s decision here is totally incomprehensible. It looked as if at least they might have indicted him on something like involuntary manslaughter at the very least … The crime was as petty as they come. He was selling loose cigarettes, which in and of itself is absurd that somebody has to die over that.
Judge Andrew Napolitano: There was ample evidence to indict; and the grand jury made a grievous error by not doing so.
Greta Van Susteren: We don’t do the death penalty for selling cigarettes illegally on the street.
[Just added] Glenn Beck: How this cop did not go to jail and was not held responsible is beyond me.
Garner was strangled by an officer, Daniel Pantaleo, using a chokehold that violates the police department’s guidelines. His offense was selling single cigarettes, a crime on the order of jaywalking. And he cried out several times that he couldn’t breathe. It is absolutely unconscionable that a man can be killed under these circumstances without anyone being held to account by a court of law. The grand jury’s only role is to ascertain whether the evidence supports remanding the case for trial. They do not decide guilt or innocence. But if this video isn’t sufficient evidence to warrant a jury trial, then what on Earth is?
While the right-wing Fox News pundits above were moved to disagree with the grand jury’s decision in the hours following its announcement, a more recognizable Fox narrative eventually began to unfold. It took some time but they figured out ways to blame the victim as a criminal who was resisting arrest and was in poor health to begin with. Simultaneously they exonerated the cop as doing his job by confronting a much larger man and using a “safety belt” hold that doesn’t choke (in complete contrast to the video evidence). Now that’s the Fox News we know.
In the meantime, Republican pols came out of the gate swinging with New York congressman Peter King thanking the grand jury and attributing Garner’s death to his asthma. And the GOP congressman representing the Staten Island district where the death occurred also praised the obviously broken system. Rep. Michael Grimm said that…
“There’s no question that this grand jury had an immensely difficult task before them, but I have full faith that their judgment was fair and reasoned and I applaud DA Donovan for overseeing this case with the utmost integrity.”
It is fair to assume that Grimm’s opinion does not represent many of his constituents. And ironically, Grimm himself is currently under a 20-count indictment for business and campaign violations of law. When a man like Grimm is your defender, while Bill O’Reilly and other Fox News pundits have sympathy for the victim, there is something terribly wrong. Grimm was just reelected last month. Here is Rep. Grimm threatening to throw a reporter off of a balcony:
Today is the ninth anniversary of the launch of News Corpse. It has brought great satisfaction exposing the deceit and inbred hatred of the right-wing media for these past nine years. On the other hand, it has brought great frustration that such unethical miscreants continue to distort the truth in pursuit of their extremist, uber-conservative agenda. On the other hand (that’s three hands so far if you’re counting), the wingnut press is a bottomless pit of material for satire and mockery.
Fox News is engaging in a peculiar manner of celebration this Independence Day. Their Fox Nation website decided to display their patriotism by posting an editorial by impeachment advocate, and Fox senior legal analyst, Andrew Napolitano, that declared that America has “Gone From An Inherited Tyrant To An Elected One.” Hooray for the USA!
Over on the Fox News website they featured an article by Dan Gainor, the VP of the ultra-rightist propaganda factory, the Media Research Center. Gainor’s column was headlined “July Fourth: Be especially proud to be an American in 2014.” It was long discourse that covered many subjects, but left out just one: Any reason to be especially proud. Gainor just ranted about the evils of liberals and President Obama. For example, note these excerpts:
[Liberals are] largely in charge of educating our children, running our government and manipulating the media we consume.
Government is both pro-left and pro-union.
No wonder America is in trouble. The Us in USA have a $17.5 trillion national debt, an unchecked parade of illegal immigration and off-the-charts moral decay (including epic out-of-wedlock births).
Look who they learn love of country from – the president.
Patriotism and love of country are under attack, just like faith.
The flag and those who care for it are under attack across the nation.
Don’t let liberals talk down the Founders unopposed. Don’t let local tyrants force you to take down the American flag.
The next time someone asks you if you are proud to be an American, you can answer: “Damn right I am.”
Richard Mellon Scaife died. Scaife was the media baron who spent a lifetime attacking Democrats, and particularly the Clinton family who he accused of everything from drug-running to murder. He was an early and aggressive advocate of Clinton’s impeachment. He was 82.
Disgusting, hate-filled, Tea Party, racist, protesters continue to camp out at the site of a Murrieta, California, facility where immigration officials are hoping to temporarily house women and children while being processed. These pseudo-patriots are actually impeding the authorities from completing deportation proceedings, and at the same time they are subjecting the children to terrifying experiences and forcing them into unsafe, overcrowded facilities. What a wonderful way to spend the Fourth of July and honor these words:
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
Finally, let’s all wish this beautiful young woman the very happiest Sweet Sixteen ever. That’s right, Malia Obama is a real Yankee Doodle Dandy who was born on the Fourth of July.
The conservative congregation of gun worshipers is pulling out all the stops to prevent any dialogue on gun safety and common sense measures that might protect citizens from the sort of mass carnage that has shocked Americans recently in places like Newtown, Aurora, and Tuscon. With the help of right-wing media, notably Fox News, they are promulgating fear and hostility as a response to a political difference of opinion over how to make our communities safer.
The mantra from the right is that Obama is a tyrant who will abolish the Constitution and confiscate all guns. While there is not even an inkling of evidence that any of that is true, the terrifying specter of a dictatorial slave state is flushing through the veins of pseudo-patriots who pretend to revere America and the soldiers who defend it, but are adamant that they retain sufficient firepower to massacre them if necessary. That’s how they thank our heroes for their service.
In the rhetorical battle to preserve their alleged right to carry weapons of carnage into schools and bars and laundromats and baseball stadiums, the Gunnies are now declaring that every threatened or oppressed group of people would have been better off if they had been armed to the hilt and prepared to blow away their assailants. Reality is at variance with these apocryphal claims, but that doesn’t lessen their feverish insistence that a fire-with-fire response to every conflict will bring about a peaceful, secure society. Despite the obvious contradiction in that view, conservative mouthpieces are expressing remarkably similar themes that arrive at the same conclusion: If [fill in the blank] had guns the good guys would always win and violence would become a thing of the past (er, like the wild west?). It’s a Fox Nation style argument that dispenses with truth in favor of hyperbole and historical revisionism. For instance…
If Civil Rights Activists Had Guns…
Rush Limbaugh:“If a lot of African-Americans back in the ’60s had guns and the legal right to use them for self-defense, you think they would have needed [to march at] Selma?”
This astonishingly blockheaded statement ignores the fact that the civil rights activists protesting segregation and discrimination in Selma, Alabama were devoted to peaceful change. They were led by Martin Luther King who was inspired by the non-violent methods practiced by Gandhi. It was a successful strategy that resulted in profound changes in both government and people’s hearts. In effect Limbaugh is expressing solidarity with the Black Panthers and suggesting that armed protesters shooting at southern sheriffs would have brought about a better result. However, the presence of guns would only have put everyone in greater danger, sapped the moral advantage of the protesters and produced more corpses all around. And Limbaugh would have been the first to condemn them for their reliance on violence.
If Slaves Had Guns…
Gun advocate Larry Ward:“If African Americans had been given the right to keep and bear arms from day one of the country’s founding, perhaps slavery might not have been a chapter in our history.”
Of course. If the slave traders had given each of their human “cargo” a musket along with their shackles they would have been able to kill off their prospective masters and enjoy life in the new world. I’m sure that Ward and the others propounding this theory would have been delighted to hear that armed slave rebellions had put folks like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson in their graves before they ever got around to declaring independence from the British. Furthermore, the unorganized, disoriented, involuntary African immigrants would have had no problem dispatching the southern slave states that a civil war with the rest of the nation struggled with for years at horrendous human cost.
If Jews Had Guns…
Judge Andrew P. Napolitano, Fox News:“If the Jews in the Warsaw ghetto had had the firepower and ammunition that the Nazis did, some of Poland might have stayed free and more persons would have survived the Holocaust.”
Once again, the dimwits on the right think that civilians of an oppressed minority would have managed to overcome a military power that held at bay most of the free world. Apparently Napolitano believes that the Jews in the Warsaw ghetto had some superpowers that, were they armed, would have made them a more ominous opponent than the Americans, the Russians, the English, and the French combined.
If Schools Had Guns…
Ann Coulter:“Only one policy has reduced these mass shootings and the number of casualties, and that is concealed carry permits. If you want to reduce the number of dead, and the number of times this is going to happen in an area, you sort of sense this, because they so often happen at public schools.”
Something that the Gunnies seem all to willing to excise from the debate is the fact that prior incidents of shootings at schools occurred despite there being armed guards present. That was the case at Columbine. It was also the case at Virginia Tech where they had a whole armed police squad on campus. Despite their best intentions, guards cannot be everywhere at once. And they also are often at a disadvantage when confronted by an assailant with a military style arsenal and bullet-proof gear who gets the jump on them.
If Teachers Had Guns…
Pat Robertson:“The truth is, if teachers had guns in classes, these shooters wouldn’t come in because they would be afraid of getting shot themselves.”
The truth is, that teachers are frequently the first victims of school shootings. The time it would take them to retrieve a weapon from a place that is safe enough for it to be stored in a classroom full of students would be plenty of time for an assailant with an AR-15 to riddle them with bullets. Robertson also forgets that most of these assaults are perpetrated by people who end up taking their own lives, so it is ridiculous to regard them as being afraid of getting shot themselves. And the presence of others with weapons certainly didn’t deter the shooter at the Ft. Hood Army base in Texas, where he certainly had reason to believe that there were other armed persons in the vicinity.
The speculative query as to whether there would have been a different outcome in any of these situations if [fill in the blank] had guns is just plain lunacy. It would be dubious under any circumstances to pretend to predict what might have occurred in these after-the-fact scenarios, but the specific examples chosen by these Gunnies demonstrate how blinded they are by their prejudices and violent, video game fantasies. The speculation could go on indefinitely. What if the women suffragettes had guns? What if the students at Kent State had guns?
What if Jesus and his disciples had guns? Pontius Pilate might have been riddled with armor-piercing bullets. There would have been no crucifixion. In fact, the soldiers and pharisees who arrested Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane would have been slaughtered. It was there that Jesus admonished his disciple Peter, who took up his sword to defend him, saying “He who lives by the sword, dies by the sword.” That’s a lesson the sanctimonious gun evangelists still haven’t learned 2,000 years later.
Every media organization has had to, at one time or another, discipline staff who crossed an ethical line. If a reporter loses his or her cool and becomes offensive in the course of their work, they must be held accountable to some set of professional standards. Ideally the standards would be a set of objective criteria that focused on verifiable breaches of honesty or civility. A credible news organization must never tolerate a reporter lying or engaging in personal attacks. I repeat, a “credible” news organization…
Unfortunately, there is a disturbing lack of oversight in this regard. Often offenders are excused without consequence or, conversely, punishment is meted out to an innocent party. For example, NPR terminated their relationship with a couple of executives who were victims of false allegations in a video produced by James O’Keefe, the criminally convicted, right-wing activist best known for deceptively edited videos.
This past week presented a revealing lesson in contrast as to how different media enterprises deal differently with anchors and other editorial personnel who fail the test of principles that ought to govern all journalists.
CNN was put to the test this week when Roland Martin posted a Tweet that appeared to advocate violence against gays. Martin pointed out that it was not meant seriously and wasn’t even directed at gays, but at the sport of soccer. Nevertheless, CNN acted quickly to suspend Martin indefinitely.
By contrast, Fox News contributor Liz Trotta delivered a commentary on Sunday berating women in the military for complaining that they get raped too much (Trotta did not define what an “acceptable” amount of rape is). The news that triggered this revolting commentary was a Pentagon report that rape and sexual assault had increased 64%, a statistic that Trotta cavalierly dismissed. She further asserted that servicewomen should “expect” to be raped because they work closely with men. Fox News has had no comment on this matter despite fierce criticism from women’s groups and veterans offended by the assertion that male soldiers are innately animals and female soldiers should quietly accept assault as a part of military life.
These two examples illustrate the differences between a news enterprise that attempts to act responsibly and one that disregards such restraints in order to forge ahead with a sensationalistic approach and to pander to the scandal-lust of their viewers. CNN has faced this dilemma in the past by meting out punishments for ethical infractions to Lou Dobbs, Rick Sanchez, Octavia Nasr, Susan Roesgen, Peter Arnett, and Eason Jordan. MSNBC has done the same to Keith Olbermann, David Shuster, Mark Halperin, Markos Moulitsas, and Pat Buchanan. Some of these chastisements were warranted (Dobbs, Buchanan), and some were executions of petulant grudges (Markos), and CNN still inexplicably employs miscreants like Erick Erickson and Dana Loesch. So CNN and MSNBC should not necessarily be held up as models of morality. But at least there is some evidence of an internal criteria for ethical behavior of some sort.
Fox News, however, has yet to make any news staffer pay a price for professional indiscretions, despite the fact that things got so bad at Fox they had to distribute a memo asserting a “Zero Tolerance Policy” that warned of “letters to personnel files, suspensions, and other possible actions up to and including termination.” The memo was issued after numerous, embarrassing on-air blunders by Fox reporters and producers. But rather than undergoing discipline, Fox News bent over backwards to reward reporters who behaved badly. In fact, while other networks were firing such violators, Fox seems to be on a mission to recruit them. For instance: Juan Williams, Don Imus, Doug McKelway, and Lou Dobbs were all put on the Fox payroll after having been terminated for cause at other networks. Even Glenn Beck who, while no longer hosting his own program, appears regularly with Bill O’Reilly and others.
Fox maintains a clubby environment for recalcitrant reporters, and there remains a full stable of them on the air. Here is a selection of some of the more obviously repulsive people that Fox News should have fired for their absence of morality and professionalism, but to date have not even had their wrists slapped. And make no mistake, the job security enjoyed by these weasels is not due to carelessness on the part of Fox News. Controversy, hostility, and rabid right-wing advocacy are the hallmarks of Fox’s business model. It’s how they cultivate and reward the loyalty of their audience. What other explanation could justify this:
Todd Starnes: Unsurprisingly, Fox News has smeared the Occupy Movement from its inception. They have disparaged them as everything from unfocused to unclean to un-American. But it took Starnes, the host of Fox News & Commentary on Fox Radio, to equate them to mass murderers by asking, “What should be done with the domestic terrorists who are occupying our cities and college campuses?” By comparing Occupiers to the likes of Timothy McVeigh, Starnes is engaging in rhetorical terrorism and insulting hundreds of thousands of concerned Americans.
Cody Willard: This Fox Business reporter brazenly exposed his bias when he attended a Tea Party rally and feverishly barked at the camera this call to arms against the U.S. government, “Guys, when are we going to wake up and start fighting the fascism that seems to be permeating this country?”
Andrew Napolitano: The “Judge” is a notorious 9/11 Truther who believes that the attack on the World Trade Center towers was an inside job, orchestrated by agents of the United States government. That’s a position considered so crazy by Fox Newsers that it was instrumental in their campaign to get Van Jones fired from his post as a green jobs adviser to President Obama. But, in typical Foxian hypocrisy, it has no impact on the employment of Napolitano. [Note: The entire primetime schedule of the Fox Business Network, including Napolitano, Eric Bolling and David Asman, was recently canceled. But it was due to poor ratings, not content. And all remain active Fox News contributors.]
Bill Sammon: The Fox News Washington managing editor was recorded admitting to a friendly audience on a conservative cruise that he would go on air and “mischievously” cast Obama as a socialist even though he didn’t believe it himself. In other words, he lied to defame the President and rile up his gullible viewers. That would be cause for termination at most news networks, but probably earned Sammon a bonus at Fox.
Eric Bolling: Hoping to sustain Fox’s leadership in inappropriate Nazi references, Bolling accused President Obama of engaging in class warfare that was “forged in Marxist Germany.” And if that wasn’t asinine enough, he sided with Iran against the U.S. by accusing the American hikers who were held in an Iranian prison of being spies and said that Iran should have kept them.
Bill O’Reilly: Dr. George Tiller, a family physician in Kansas, was murdered by an anti-abortion extremist who may have been incited to violence by rhetoric like this from O’Reilly: “Now, we have bad news to report that Tiller the baby killer out in Kansas, acquitted. Acquitted today of murdering babies.” O’Reilly regards the acquittal of a doctor for performing legal medical services “bad news,” and the services themselves “murder.” But he never took any responsibility for fanning the flames of violent incivility that led to the actual murder of Dr. Tiller.
Col. Ralph Peters (Ret): In a rant that argued that the United States should fight back against our enemies with the same tactics they use against us, Peters turned the media into military targets: “Although it seems unthinkable now, future wars may require censorship, news blackouts and, ultimately, military attacks on the partisan media. And like Bolling, Peters also took the side of our foes by suggesting, without evidence, that a missing American soldier was a deserter and that “the Taliban can save us a lot of legal hassles and legal bills,” presumably by killing him.
Michael Scheuer: This former CIA analyst was concerned that the American people were not sufficiently afraid of future terrorist attacks. He regards that absence of fear as dangerous complacency. But he has a solution: “The only chance we have as a country right now is for Osama bin Laden to deploy and detonate a major weapon in the United States.”
Roger Ailes: The CEO of Fox News proves that a fish stinks from its head. In response to NPR’s firing of Juan Willimas for bigoted remarks about Muslims, Ailes let loose a tirade wherein he viciously attacked the NPR executives saying that… “They are, of course, Nazis. They have a kind of Nazi attitude. They are the left wing of Nazism.”
Liz Trotta: Ending up where we began, this abhorrent attempt at comedy simply could not be left off of this list. What started out as a verbal stumble became a call for assassination when Trotta said, “Now we have what some are reading as a suggestion that somebody knock off Osama, umm, Obama. Well, both if we could.”
It’s difficult to believe that anyone could retain a job in the media after making statements like those above. These were not mistakes or misunderstandings. They are not out of context. They were considered, deliberate expressions of opinion that represented the reporter’s views at the time. Yet all of these people are still employed and active at Fox News.
To be fair, there is an example of Fox News firing reporters who crossed a line that even Fox could not abide. Steve Wilson and Jane Akre investigated a story that detailed the health risks posed by the use of recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH), a milk additive manufactured by chemical giant Monsanto. Fox objected to the story’s negative portrayal of a major advertiser and ordered the reporters to make modifications that they knew were false. When the reporters refused they were fired. In the subsequent litigation Fox argued in court that the network had a right to determine the content of their stories, and even to lie, and that employees who declined to comply could be terminated as insubordinate.
So while Fox News has no problem with their analysts advocating terrorism against Americans, they draw the line when it comes to suppressing their Constitutional right to lie. Fox has taken great care to set their priorities and to draw their ethical lines in sand that is always under the prevailing tide.
[Update] This week racist Pat Buchanan was sacked by MSNBC and radio schlock jocks John & Ken were suspended for calling Whitney Houston a “crack ho”. But Liz Trotta, Eric Bolling, et al are still happily working at Fox.
The day after News Corp released their latest quarterly earnings report, they made another announcement that somehow was left out of the earnings conference call.
The struggling Fox Business Network (FBN) has, in one fell swoop, canceled their entire primetime lineup. Wiped from the schedule are “Freedom Watch” with Andrew Napolitano, “Power & Money” with David Asman, and “Follow the Money” with Eric Bolling. All three programs had little business running on a business network in the first place. They were brazenly political vehicles for sharply partisan, right-wing gasbags.
Andrew Napolitano is a notorious 9/11 truther who believes that the attack on the World Trade Center towers was an inside job. He also lamented the killing of Osama Bin Laden whom he characterized as a victim of assassination, “killed on the illegal whim of the President.”
David Asman has said that we should all be celebrating the 1%. He is an advocate of shutting down the government and believes that its size must be cut “before it kills us all.” He called Obama “Hugo Chavez on the Potomac.” And he believes that Social Security is “one of the biggest frauds ever perpetrated.”
Eric Bolling is perhaps the most deserving of the Glenn Beck Memorial Wingnut Award for Delusional Hyperbole. He has accused President Obama of engaging in class warfare that was “forged in Marxist Germany.” He embraces every conspiracy theory that comes along including that Sesame Street was demonizing the Tea Party. He even accused the American hikers who were held in an Iranian prison of being spies and said that Iran should have kept them.
The demise of these programs signals the dismal shape that FBN is in. The decision to swing the axe was not prompted by the development of new programs to take their place. FBN will fill the holes with repeats of programs that air earlier in the day. It is clearly a desperation move by a network that needs to cut the dead weight and run leaner and cheaper.
FBN’s primetime lineup never drew more than about 25,000 viewers in the coveted 25-54 year old demographic. Their ratings have been pathetic from the start, when they proposed to launch a new business channel that would appeal to “Main Street.” That was a direct contradiction of News Corp CEO Rupert Murdoch who said that “a Fox channel would be ‘more business-friendly than CNBC.'” Of course, a business network is not supposed to be “friendly” toward the businesses it is covering.
In an ironic twist, FBN’s Vice-President, Kevin Magee, recently distributed a memo to his staff admonishing them for being too much like their sister network, Fox News.
Magee: “I’ve been asked to remind you all again that they are separate channels and the more we make FBN look like FNC the more of a disservice we do to ourselves. I understand the temptation to imitate our sibling network in hopes of imitating its success, but we cannot. If we give the audience a choice between FNC and the almost-FNC, they will choose FNC every time.”
That’s excellent advice. CNN, ABC, CBS, and NBC should pay attention. However, it apparently came too late to save the most Foxish programs on the network. Now Magee has lopped off the worst offenders in the hopes of rescuing the floundering enterprise. Though the losers will still be around as Magee notes that “We look forward to Judge Napolitano, David and Eric continuing to make significant contributions to both FOX Business and FOX News.” Yeah right.
The only purpose Fox Business ever had was to extend the rightist propaganda already blaring from Fox News. They loaded up the network with conservative extremist pundits and vacant ratings whores like Don Imus. That approach has proven to be another failure for Murdoch, whose MySpace investment quickly went down the tubes; whose New York Post has lost millions for as long as he has owned it; for his international newspaper syndicate that is still reeling from the discovery of rampant criminal activity, phone hacking, and the the shuttering of his biggest paper in the UK, the News of the World.
Another item of information that was disclosed with the News Corp earnings release is that their cable television assets represent 60% of their revenue. That’s a pretty heavy reliance on one business segment of a conglomerate that includes international publishing and film operations. Now that FBN is slipping away, all that Murdoch needs is to have his Fox News falter. That is the last remaining support for his crumbling empire. And for the benefit of honest journalism, the nation, and the world, it can’t come too soon.
Yet another example of the unique tunnel-blindness of Fox News and their rightist colleagues.
The Fox Nationalists are clearly disturbed by the conspiracy theorists who believe that the truth about the 9/11 attacks has not yet been told. Consequently they use that as an excuse to dismiss remarks by MSNBC’s Touré regarding global warming. The Fox Nation item links to an article by their pals at NewsBusters:
“On Friday’s Dylan Ratigan Show, MSNBC contributor Touré, who is also a 9/11 truther, wondered if Hurricane Irene is an example of global warming. He speculated, ‘When you talk about an unusual weather event happening in New York and this sort of thing, is this really evidence of global warming to see this sort of a massive storm happening here?’
“Touré is routinely featured on MSNBC, despite his tendency to tweet in support of 9/11 conspiracy theories.”
What a travesty! Hosting a 9/11 Truther to give commentary about unrelated news events? The only thing that could be worse would be to give a 9/11 Truther his own daily show. Like…um…Fox did with 9/11 Truther, Judge Andrew Napolitano
The Fox Nation/NewsBusters gang whines that “It’s a bit much to blame this hurricane on global warming. It’s even weirder when a conspiracy-minded 9/11 truther does it.” I wonder why I haven’t yet seen Fox post an article dismissing everything Napolitano says because of his conspiracy theorism.
And, by the way, Touré is factually correct in his questioning about hurricanes and global warming. The science is pretty well established that the impact of climate change will include more frequent and more severe weather events. But Fox won’t let facts interfere with their bashing of anyone with whom they disagree. They don’t even care if their bashing happens to snag one of their own.
It looks like Fox News may be able to call off their search for Glenn Beck’s replacement. If drooling delirium and glassy-eyed insanity is the criteria, then Judge Andrew Napolitano has the role sewn up. Today he opened his program on Fox Business Network, Freedom Watch, saying…
“Osama Bin Laden assassinated, killed on the illegal whim of the President.”
That’s right. Osama Bin Laden, a brutal commander of terrorists responsible for thousands of deaths, is finally found and dispatched, and Napolitano says that President Obama is the criminal. The only thing Napolitano needs to seal the deal is a blackboard tying George Soros and Van Jones into the operation as well. Napolitano continued…
“Tonight on the docket Osama Bin Laden is dead and the President thinks he has a right to kill whomever he wants so long as the person is a monster and the people support it. Of course the attacks on 9/11 were a horrific tragedy, but killing Osama Bin Laden is a symbol of all we’ve lost in this pointless war on terror and we can’t forget that.”
Whomever he wants? Napolitano thinks that the President’s decision to target the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, who has been the subject of an international manhunt for ten years, is the same as a decision to kill anyone else with whom the President may have a beef. In Napolitano’s eyes there is nothing special about Bin Laden. Napolitano also believes that killing Bin Laden is “a symbol of all we’ve lost.” What would allowing Bin Laden to live and continue to murder innocent people be a symbol of, Judge? And why are you taking Bin Laden’s side in this against your President?
During the program Napolitano correctly criticized the Patriot Act, but conflated that unfortunate infringement of civil liberties with the mission to capture or kill Bin Laden. Despite the fact that the Bush administration exploited 9/11 to pass the bill, it never had anything to do with protecting Americans from terrorism. It was a cynical power grab on the part of Bush and a majority Republican congress (although way too many Democrats voted for it as well). For Napolitano to bring it up in the debate over whether Bin Laden should have been killed makes about as much sense as Beck’s theory that Muslims and teachers unions are conspiring to bring Sharia law to Wisconsin.
This must be Napolitano’s audition reel for Beck’s hour on Fox. And with delusional, fear-mongering material like this he could easily slip into the time slot without any of Beck’s addled fans noticing any difference.
On April 6th Fox News and Glenn Beck announced that his program would be “transitioning” off the air. Reminds me a little of when Charlie Sheen was transitioned off of Two and a Half Men. And so, as the chalk dust settles, it is time to look ahead.
On April 1st, just a few days prior to this announcement, I rather prophetically “revealed” a list of candidates that Fox News was considering to replace Beck. It included such conservative luminaries as Ann Coulter, Andrew Breitbart, and Ted Nugent. Now I would like to offer my own musings on how Fox could fill their 5:00pm slot.
The Favorite: Judge Andrew Napolitano. He is currently the most frequent fill-in host for Beck and holds almost identical views. If anything, he leans even further off the ledge by openly asserting the 9/11 Truther position that the World Trade Center attack was an inside job.
The Gender Card: Laura Ingraham. She has the reliably wingnut views that are a prerequisite for Fox anchordom. More importantly, she fulfills Fox’s blonde quotient. She’s paid her dues filling in for Bill O’Reilly and would bring a sizable radio audience, just as her predecessor did.
The Young Turk: Eric Bolling. He currently hosts a program on Fox’s floundering business network and may be due for a transfer to the mother ship. He has filled in for Beck and appears as a guest on several Fox shows. But this guy may want it too bad. His delivery is that of someone in a permanent state of shock. On second thought, he may have shot.
The Lone Stranger: Juan Williams. Fox shelled out $2 million for Williams when he was booted out of NPR. By giving him his own show they might be able to justify that ridiculous outlay for an occasional commentator. Plus they would fill a dual demographic hole in their schedule by promoting an African-American liberal. However, that is also two strikes against any Fox News hopeful. Even though Williams is barely a liberal, the fact that he isn’t batshit insane might be enough to disqualify him alone. And since Fox’s audience is more than 98% white, the race card isn’t worth much to them.
The Dark Horse: G. Gordon Liddy. This former Watergate burglar would love to bring his radio shtick to television. He has a loyal following and would be able to retain all of Beck’s survivalist products advertisers. He would provide a consistent transition for the American Patriopaths who revere God, gold, and guns.
Of course, there are plenty of other options for Fox. They could poach Rick Santelli from CNBC. He’s the guy who got the whole Tea Party parade marching. Or they could just stretch Bret Baier’s program for an extra hour. That would be cheap and it would refocus the network on news – something which with they have little experience.
And then there’s my favorite contestant: Victoria Jackson. She has Tea Party cred and is guaranteed to never say anything that would go over the heads of the Fox viewers – or their kids.