Could Trump Be Prosecuted for Leaks Under New Department of Justice Directive?

The still nascent presidency of Donald Trump is rife with controversies and scandals. His financial conflicts of interests and unsavory connections to Russia have dominated his short tenure in office. Additionally, he has produced no legislative accomplishments. Most notably, the failure of his efforts to kill ObamaCare went down in flames. He has made no progress on immigration, taxes, terrorism, or his lame-brained border wall.

Rod Rosenstein Fox New

However, Trump regularly signals what issues are of most importance to him. And judging by the frequency of his tweets, it has little to do with matters critical to the nation. Rather, he is variously obsessed with either the media, last November’s election, or the torrent of White House leaks. Most experts agree that leaks occur when an organization is in disarray. But in Trump World it is blamed on a shadowy conspiracy of “deep state” saboteurs.

On yesterday’s edition of Fox News Sunday, host Chris Wallace interviewed Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein (video below). Much of the segment specifically addressed the question of leaks and what the Justice Department intends to do about them. Wallace sought to follow up on remarks made last week by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Those comments sparked some controversy for implying that journalists could be targeted for prosecution. Rosenstein walked that back a bit in the following exchange:

Wallace: Some of the people who engage in leaks, I don’t have to tell you, are not the members of the so-called ‘deep state’ or faceless bureaucrats inside intelligence agencies. They are White House officials. They are members of Congress. If you find any of them have committed these leaks – have disclosed classified information – will you prosecute?
Rosenstein: “What we need to look at in every leak referral we get, we look at the facts and circumstances. What was the potential harm caused by the leaks? What were the circumstances? That’s more important to us than who it is, than who is the leaker. So if we identify somebody, no matter what their position is, if they violated the law and that case warrants prosecution, we’ll prosecute them.
Wallace: Including White House officials and members of Congress?
Rosenstein: Including anybody who breaks the law.

If Rosenstein can be taken at his word, Donald Trump may be in even more trouble than previously thought. Leaks from any administration are made for a variety of reasons. It may be because someone is genuinely concerned about a course of action and has no other recourse to alter it. Sometimes a leaker is angling for position or acting out of vengeance. And sometimes leaks are deliberate attempts by the White House to disseminate information that it wants disseminated.

For example, Anthony Scaramucci, Trump’s short-lived communications director, recently outed his boss as a leaker. During an interview on CNN, Scaramucci defended Trump’s reluctance to concede that the Russians were responsible for hacking during last year’s election. He even offered “evidence” by way of an anonymous insider:

“You know, somebody said to me yesterday — I won’t tell you who — that if the Russians actually hacked this situation and spilled out those e-mails, you would have never seen it.”

That, of course, is grade AAA bullshit. Professional spies may be good at what they do, but they are not infallible. Scaramucci is suggesting that the Russians are so superior in their clandestine operations that their American counterparts are helpless yokels, incapable of facing off against the almighty Ruskies. But more important was what Scaramucci said next. After CNN’s Jake Tapper challenged Scaramucci’s hypocritical use of an anonymous source, the Mooch spilled the beans:

“How about it was – how about it was the President, Jake? I talked to him yesterday. He called me from Air Force One.”

So here we have a White House official admitting that the President was the source of a leak that disclosed inside information. Trump’s observations about the capabilities of Russian intelligence ought to be regarded as top secret. But this business was aired on national television at the behest of Donald Trump. On another occasion, Trump leaked classified data to Russian diplomats visiting the White House. This leak may have put intelligence assets of an ally at risk of discovery or termination.

Who knows what else the President might have leaked. Handing out information that advances the administration’s interest is an ago-old tactic. Dick Cheney did it to plant the lie that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. And Trump has his own media operation headquartered in the White House and led by Breitbart News chairman, Stephen Bannon. Remember, this is the same guy who used to call newspapers and pretend that he was a publicist working for, well, himself.

So if Trump is later found to be the source of leaks to the media, will the Department of Justice keep their word and prosecute him? That’s an open question for the time being. They have not been especially anxious to pursue criminal investigations of the President. And, of course, Trump remains poised to fire anyone he thinks is getting too close to the truth. In the end, it may only be possible to obtain justice with a truly independent counsel, or a Democratic congress. Stay tuned.

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

Sean Hannity’s ‘Deep State’ Derangement Put’s Him at the Front of Conspiracy Crackpot Parade

The shooting in Virginia on Wednesday has renewed the debate over civility in public discourse. Predictably, Republicans exploited the opportunity to blame Democrats and liberals for the violence directed at their colleagues – this time. Even their pleas for consideration and respect are peppered with partisan attacks.

Sean Hannity Fox News

A perfect example occurred Thursday morning on Fox and Friends. Conservative agitator Michelle Malkin spent over eight minutes with her Fox News pals pretending to seek comity while throwing jabs at “the extreme left.” At one point, the on-screen graphic read “Violent Threats Sent To GOP Lawmakers.” The tone of the whole segment reflected that bias. At no time did they mention the recent threats against Democrats. Two Democratic candidates actually had to withdraw from their races due to death threats from right-wingers. And then there was the Republican candidate who literally assaulted a reporter who was just doing his job. That candidate, Greg Gianforte, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault, won his race, and is now a U.S. congressman.

Sadly, the heated rhetoric that engulfs today’s political scene is viewed by some as an opportunity. Donald Trump notably abused his opponents whether Republican or Democrat. He fantasized about punching critics in the face. He promised to pay the legal fees of supporters who beat up protesters at his rallies. No wonder that, as president, he continues to associate with drooling barbarians like Alex Jones, Michael Savage, and Ted Nugent.

Perhaps those relationships are what is eating at Sean Hannity. He was the most vocal and devoted Trump-fluffer at Fox News during the campaign. His program featured Trump more than any other on television. And he literally endorsed Trump prior to the election, breaching every ethical standard for a news network. However, his access seems to have been curtailed. Trump hasn’t granted him an interview in over five months. In the meantime, fringe characters from Breitbart News and Infowars got passes to White House Press briefings.

This festering jealously might be inspiring Hannity to venture further out onto the crazy cliff’s edge. That seems to be the best way to get Trump’s enfeebled attention. So Hannity abandoned fear (and reason) on Wednesday night’s program to rant about the frightful “Deep State” that is plotting to destroy Trump (video below). The segment dwells on Hannity’s objection to reports that Trump is being investigated for obstruction of justice. Some choice excerpts follow:

“Tonight, and over the next few days, when the media predictably is gonna breathlessly and hyperventilate all kinds of reports and brand new black helicopters and tin-foil hat conspiracy theories to you the American people as they lie again, remember they have zero credibility left.”

Amazingly, he said that all in one breath. However, surveys show that the American people trust the media far more than they trust Trump. And credible news outlets document their stories, unlike what Hannity is doing in this tirade. He continues to deny the reports that Trump is under investigation:

“It’s only a matter of time before this too will be debunked like everything else they’ve reported in pretty much the last eleven months.”

So Hannity is asserting that for the past year “everything” that’s been reported by the media has been debunked. That’s some pretty spicy nutball delusion. Then he launches into what he says are the real crimes. He accuses James Comey and Robert Mueller of conspiring to undermine the President, despite the fact that they are both lifelong Republicans. And naturally, the biggest criminal of all is Hillary Clinton.

“We know Hillary Clinton committed felonies with her email private server scandal. If Democrats wanna talk about collusion, great. Let’s talk about it and take a look at collusion with Vladimir Putin. Uranium One. Twenty percent of the foundational material to make nuclear weapons, while serving as Secretary of State. She signed off on a waiver giving twenty percent of that uranium to Putin, to the Russians. All while people involved in that deal were funneling millions of dollars back to the Clinton Foundation.”

And all of that is total bull crap. Clinton did not sign any such waiver. There was a deal for Russia to acquire certain facilities (not actual uranium) that required the unanimous approval of nine separate government agencies. The State Department alone could not approve the deal. And the donations to the Clinton Foundation all occurred before Clinton was even nominated for the cabinet post. All of this information is publicly available and Hannity has known about it for years. Nevertheless, he persists in spewing information that he knows is false. It’s all part of his “Deep State” saga aimed at convincing his dim-witted audience that a covert, pseudo-government is working behind the scenes to destroy Trump.

Hannity closes with a call to arrest and jail the anonymous sources who talk to the media. He asserts that they are guilty of disseminating classified data. What’s peculiar about that charge is that he also claims the information they provided is false. But he can’t have it both ways. If the data is false, then nothing classified was revealed, no laws were broken, and no arrests are warranted. If the data is true, then Hannity has to concede that Trump is being investigated for obstruction of justice which Hannity rejects as fake news.

By spinning so furiously that his brain is scrambled, Hannity hopes to return to the high place he held with Trump prior to the election. He appears to think that he has to compete with the likes of Jones and Savage for the President’s affections. And he is probably right. Trump’s choice of friends and advisers is driven by their Insanity Quotient. The question is, can Fox News continue to allow a lying conspiracy kook to host a primetime program on their network? Well, why not? He’s been there for twenty years.

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

Trump, Jr and Other Republicans are Already Blaming Democrats for Scalise Shooting

Wednesday morning a deranged man opened fire on a group of Republicans practicing for a charity baseball event. Fortunately there were no fatalities, but several people were wounded including the GOP House Whip, Steve Scalise. Capital Police returned fire and killed the gunman. This is a horrific act of violence for which there is no excuse, and members of both parties have come together to condemn it. For the most part.

Donald Trump, Jr

Sadly, there are some on the right who leaped to the opportunity to take political advantage of this tragedy. And at the top of the list is the eldest son of Donald Trump, Don, Jr. The Trump scion retweeted conservative pundit Harlan Hill who posted this offensive and false sentiment: “Events like today are EXACTLY why we took issue with NY elites glorifying the assassination of our President.”

Trump and Hill are referencing a production of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar where the title character was made up to resemble Trump. But they are woefully ignorant of the content of the play which concludes that political violence is abhorrent and counterproductive. What’s more, they never had any complaints when the same play was staged with President Obama in the role of Caesar.

More to the point, Trump, Jr. is demonstrating a callous disrespect for the victims and their families by rushing to politicize this shooting. It exposes his obsession with partisan antics aimed at disparaging Democrats. And he isn’t alone. Other Republicans have also dived into the scummy end of the pool. Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.) called it a “political rhetorical terrorist attack.” Fringe wingnut radio talker Michael Savage tweeted “I warned America the Dems constant drumbeat of hatred would lead to violence!” Alex Jones’ InfoWars deemed it “media-inspired terror attacks.” That’s notably different than his take on the Sandy Hook murder of twenty children as a hoax staged with actors.

Conservative websites like the Drudge Report and Breitbart News joined in the pile on against Democrats and liberals. Never mind that every Democrat who has spoken out about this has unconditionally condemned it. And then there’s GOP congressman Chris Collins (R-NY), who assigned the blame solely to Democrats for rhetoric that he said “fuels the fires.” He continued:

“I can only hope that the Democrats do tone down the rhetoric. The rhetoric has been outrageous. The finger-pointing, just the tone and the angst and the anger directed at Donald Trump, his supporters. […] Maybe this is a wake-up call. I’m not saying it will be. But let’s hope we could disagree on a more polite, conversational basis.”

So Collins’ idea of being more polite is to accuse Democrats – and only Democrats – of inciting violence. And his solution to finger-pointing is finger-pointing. Just for the record, Republicans have been notoriously hostile toward Democrats for decades. And that has only worsened during the Era of Trump, who famously suggested “2nd Amendment solutions” to handle Hillary Clinton. And who can forget the images of Obama being lynched that were circulated endlessly by right-wing trolls. In many cases they were further disseminated by GOP officials.

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

Republicans are right to admonish anyone who glorifies violence against political adversaries. They’re right to condemn such violence when it occurs. But they are just bending the arc of hypocrisy to the breaking point when they assert that they are not at least as guilty of hostile partisan rhetoric. And they need to extend their outrage to abortion clinic bombings, assaults on Muslims, LGBTQ people, women, African Americans, Latinos, etc. Then they can start to consider lecturing Democrats on civility.

Pay-To-Play: Trump’s Tweets Promoting Fox News Are Worth A Fortune In Free Advertising

It’s time to pull the press credentials of Fox News.

Fox News Donald Trump

The congressional press galleries have specific standards for issuing press passes to Washington journalists. They’re intended to insure that correspondents granted the privilege of access to government officials represent legitimate and independent news organizations. More often than not, credentials have been distributed fairly and without regard to partisan affiliation. The standards say in part that applicants…

“…must not be engaged in any lobbying or paid advocacy, advertising, publicity or promotion work for any individual, political party, corporation, organization, or agency of the U.S. Government. [And…] must be editorially independent of any institution, foundation or interest group that lobbies the federal government, or that is not principally a general news organization.”

A recent example of a “news” enterprise that failed the test was Breitbart News. Their application was denied due to its failure demonstrate editorial independence from Donald Trump and his administration. It was an easy call considering that Trump’s chief strategist, Stephen Bannon, previously ran the alt-right web rag.

However, applying the same criteria, the credentials of Fox News should be revoked due to their demonstrated absence of independence. The network’s news anchors and opinion hosts shamelessly advance the interests of Trump and his agenda. Some (Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity) are close personal friends. What’s more, they devotedly defend him from criticism and fiercely attack his critics. Fox News fails to meet the standards cited above because it is plainly engaging in advocacy, advertising, publicity and promotion. It is not editorially independent. And even according to their own chief executive, it “is not principally a general news organization.”

Clearly Fox is in Trump’s corner and isn’t shy about showing their favoritism. And the reverse is just as true. Further evidence of the tightly wound dependency between Trump and Fox News is the favoritism shown by Trump toward Fox. Prior to his entry into politics he had a regular segment on Fox and Friends called “Mondays with Trump.” He has appeared on Fox more than any other network. Since the inauguration five of the six interviews he’s given to cable news networks were given to Fox News.

Even more emblematic of their mutual fondness is the presence of former Foxies in the White House ranks. So far there are five members of the Trump administration who were recruited from Fox News. K.T. McFarland, Ben Carson, Sebastian Gorka, Heather Nauert, and Richard Grennell. They form the core of Trump’s Ministry of Propaganda. It’s an unprecedented fusion of media and government.

Never let it be said that Trump doesn’t show his appreciation for all the help he’s received from Fox. He has expressed that appreciation in the form of promotional tweets encouraging his followers to watch Fox News. The Washington Post has collected dozens of examples of these 140 character commercial endorsements. And the value of these tweeted ads should not be underestimated. The Post noted that:

“[T]here’s a robust economy built on getting celebrities to tweet positive things about products. You see Kim Kardashian posting a photo of some new lipstick on Instagram and you can be pretty confident that the lipstick company paid some go-between to get her to do that.”

Indeed. Trump’s previous career as a television huckster hosting a reality TV game show prepared him for this role as a White House infomercial personality. Celebrity Apprentice was an hour long advertising vehicle for everything from Coca-Cola to Chevrolet, and of course Trump Hotels. In fact, there were often more product placements in Trump’s show than most other programs on television. It’s a corrupt practice he is continuing in the White House.

So Trump knows how much endorsements are worth. The Post estimated his tweets for Fox News to be worth more than $5 million in free advertising. Perhaps not as valuable as Kardashian’s tweets, but still significant. Below are some of the tweet-vertisements Trump has posted for his pals at Fox:

The relationship between Trump and Fox News is one that poisons both the media and the presidency. It cheapens both by turning them into commercial casters that exist to generate tabloid pablum for profit. A perfect example of how quickly this devolves into a shopping network for political elites is the deal Fox just signed with Harvey Levin. The TMZ star will host “Objectified,” a spinoff of Levin’s Fox News special wherein he toured Trump’s gold-plated penthouse. Coming this fall.

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

Trump and Fox News are merging to form a government sponsored propaganda machine that is deceptive at best and mind control at worst. It is the sort of perverse arrangement that is generally found in dictatorships and fascist regimes. If the organizations responsible for journalist credentials don’t take steps to apply their own standards, then they will be complicit in the degradation and delegitimization of the American press. And the first step would be to pull the press credentials of Fox News.

Now Can We Declare Trump Insane And Remove Him From Office? (Tweetstorm On Wiretaps)

The reasons to impeach Donald Trump, or otherwise remove him from office, continue to mount. His conflicts of interest, financial corruption, sexual predatory behavior, associations with mobsters, and on and on. And this is the guy that the media swoons over for his allegedly newfound “presidential” demeanor? The most troubling of his growing collection of scandals is the unsavory relationship he and his administration have with Russia and Vladimir Putin.

Donald Trump

However, on Saturday morning Trump revealed another reason to remove him from the presidency. He is STRAIGHT UP BONKERS! Note this latest torrent of deranged tweets:

As usual, Trump provided no evidence that these paranoid accusations have any truth to them. They appear to be a wild excursion into a hallucinatory nightmare that only he can experience. His determination to find villains plotting his demise is taking over his already hampered mental state. Professionals in the psychiatric field have warned of his “malignant narcissism” and other dangerous lapses of cognitive ability. Since his election, legislators from both sides of the aisle have drafted bills to mandate a White House psychiatrist.

Trump’s descent into ever deeper madness seems to be reaching a pinnacle. These tweets cover a lot of maniacal territory. For instance, he is accusing Obama of something that a president has no power to do. Only a law enforcement entity such as the FBI can request surveillance warrants. And in these circumstances even they would need permission from the FISA court to proceed. This isn’t new information either, as Trump insinuated.

His reference to McCarthyism demonstrates that he has no idea what that is. Obama did not make any baseless allegations of treasonous affiliations. Trump didn’t even assert that. To him McCarthyism is just an epithet to toss around recklessly to malign his perceived enemies. The Watergate reference is a bit more on track, except that in that affair Nixon tapped his own phones.

While Trump offered no support for his bizarre claims, the Guardian speculates that he got his info from ultra-rightist radio host, Mark Levin. On his Thursday night show Levin talked about the alleged steps Obama took to undermine Trump’s campaign. That unsubstantiated lunacy was later picked up by Breitbart News, the wingnut hack factory formerly run by Trump’s chief White House strategist, Stephen Bannon.

This is reminiscent of Trump’s frequent use of unverified lunacies from right-wing media that show up on his Twitter feed within minutes of them airing on Fox News. The President resides in a hermetically sealed bubble of far-right conspiracy theories and fake news. He regurgitates what he see and reads from dubious sources as fact and doesn’t even bother to cite those sources. Bloomberg News recently documented the extent to which Trump relies on Fox News, and vice versa.

The most puzzling part of this is trying to come up with a motivation for making these accusations now. Generally Trump’s intentions are easily discerned as distractions from some other abhorrent activity on his part. However, all this does is to remind people of his nefarious connections to Russia. Congressman Ted Lieu noted this in a candid and colorful tweet on the subject:

All of this points to a deteriorating mental state on the part of our President. This is the man who controls the nuclear codes. Yet he is easily influenced by the likes of Mark Levin, Alex Jones, and his own top aide, Bannon. The circumstances developing in the White House are exactly why the nation ratified the 25th Amendment to the Constitution. Section four of the Amendment provides guidance in the event that “the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.”

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

If there were ever a situation in which that argument could be made, it is now. And it isn’t just because of these recent tweets. Trump’s entire history in public life is symptomatic of psychological disorder. His pathological lying, his relentless egotism, his multiple marriages and public affairs, his faulty, and often imaginary, recollections, and his childish outbursts and insults, all suggest deep emotional abnormality. It’s long past time that he be evaluated and directed to somewhere that he get the help he obviously needs. And in the process, protect the country from further harm.

Trump’s ‘Enemy Of The American People’ Is A Direct Threat To The Free Press

From the outset of Donald Trump’s campaign he has made the media a target of his attacks, insults and retribution. He has called them liars and sleazy and horrible people. Keeping them penned up at his rallies was common, as was expelling those he especially disliked.

Donald Trump

Organizations that advocate for the welfare of journalists have expressed their concerns with justifiable anxiety. The Committee to Protect Journalists issued a warning that “A Trump presidency would represent a threat to press freedom in the United States.” The National Press Club released a similar statement condemning Trump’s anti-press tactics as “unacceptable and dangerous to our democracy.”

Now Trump has taken his abuse a step further into an ominous future. He posted on Twitter a message that reeks of an authoritarian stranglehold on one of America’s most cherished principles. The Free Press. He tweeted:

Trump’s characterization of the press as “the enemy of the American People!” has roots in some of the most oppressive historical dictatorships. It goes back to ancient Roman times. However, it has been used as recently as the 1950’s by China’s Chairman Mao Tse-tung to suppress freedom. Trump’s usage is particularly repulsive because of the overtly violent overtones that infect so much of his rhetoric. Is he deliberately fomenting violence against the press now? As an aside, it’s curious that he thinks the media is the enemy of the American people, but that it isn’t his enemy.

In the United States, disgraced former President Richard Nixon made an almost identical statement in private. He said that “The press is the enemy, the establishment is the enemy, the professors are the enemy.” Sound familiar? But Trump is saying it very publicly. It’s also notable that Nixon’s Watergate scandal and Trump’s current transgressions have similar beginnings. The Republican operatives who broke into Democratic offices at the Watergate were called the “Plumbers” because their purpose was to plug up leaks. And that’s exactly the focus of Trump’s complaints.

The “enemy of the people” theme is likely the handiwork of Trump’s alt-right, white supremacist aide, Stephen Bannon. In 2012 his Breitbart News website featured a commentary by Trump supporter Pat Caddell. In it Caddell said that “The press’s job is to stand in the ramparts and protect the liberty and freedom of all of us from a government and from organized governmental power,” So far, so good. However, he continued to say that they have “desert[ed] those ramparts” and “made themselves the enemy of the American people.”

Mao, Nixon, Breitbart. Is there a pattern forming? Trump would be thrilled to discredit the media that he regards as the “opposition party.” Then he could rant relentlessly with his “alternative facts” and outright lies without restraint or objective scrutiny. He could rely on disreputable “news” manglers like Breitbart, Infowars, the National Enquirer, and Fox News to lead his campaign of disinformation.

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

This needs to be taken seriously. Trump is not kidding when he says the free press is the enemy. Last October he complained that “Our press is allowed to say whatever they want and get away with it.” Trump is actually appalled that the press can say whatever they want. It’s a freedom that he would eagerly undo given the opportunity. That would leave us with his factless accounts of a delusional world that exalts him and maligns his critics. He must be stopped by any (legal) means necessary.

The Fake Fox News ‘War On Christmas’ Just Created Some Very Real Victims

For several years now Fox News has been engaged in a raging “War On Christmas.” For the most part it is a conflict that is wholly the product of their warped imagination. And despite the fact that victory was declared by its general, Bill O’Reilly, several times, peace has still evaded us. And now this phony war is having all too real consequences.

Fox News Todd Starnes

An elementary school in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, made an administrative decision not to put on a Christmas show this year. The principal cited the fact that its production requires 15-20 hours of classroom time that couldn’t be spared. However, the program’s cancellation was all that Fox News needed to bolster their war propaganda. Host Todd Starnes put out another in his series of bogus tirades against imaginary assaults on Xmas. According to LancasterOnline (via Media Matters):

“A Hempfield elementary school is under fire for ending its longstanding production of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” and a Jewish family has fled the county in fear because it’s being blamed for the cancellation. The unfolding controversy at Centerville Elementary School played out this week in national conservative media outlets including FOX News and Breitbart News Network, which portray the school’s move as part of a ‘war on Christmas.'”

After the play was canceled, classmates were reported to have harassed the Jewish student whom they blamed for the cancellation. The parents denied that they had complained or asked that the play be canceled. All they did was to request that their child not be required to participate. The principal responded to the rumors about parental objections by posting a notice stating flatly that they weren’t true. But that didn’t stop Fox News, Breitbart, and other right-wing outlets from exploiting the contrived controversy.

As a result, the family was forced to flee their home in order to avoid the hostile reaction from Fox viewers. [See update below] LancasterOnline reported that:

“Since the Fox and Breitbart stories, a spokeswoman for the school district said, the school has received at least 200 emails and phone calls either supporting or objecting to the decision or asking for additional information. The Jewish student’s parents say some of the reactions to the stories frightened them. After seeing reader comments like ‘It would be nice if we had the addresses of those concerned citizens and, I bet, this info is known to people living in the area’ on the Breitbart story, the parents pulled their child out of school and headed out of the area for a bit. ‘There’s no way we’re going to take a chance after the pizza incident,’ they said, referencing the man who fired an assault rifle in a Washington D.C area pizzeria after reading a fake-news story that said Hillary Clinton was running a child sex ring out of there.”

The stories from Fox and Breitbart focused on the false assertion that a Jewish family objected to the play’s Tiny Tim character saying “God bless us, everyone.” That’s absurd on its face because there would be no reason for such an objection. Jews are not averse to blessings from God. However, the attempt to stigmatize a Jewish family reeks of the anti-Semitism that frequently portrays Jews as Christ-killers. Casting Jews as opponents of Christianity and its holidays was a favorite tactic of the Nazis in 1930’s Germany.

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

Now Fox News is carrying on that loathsome tradition in an effort to advance their Christmas Wars agenda. And they are not the least bit concerned about the harm it is doing to innocent families. They are devoted to their campaign of hate and division without regard for the victims. And it is perfectly aligned with Donald Trump’s divisive agenda. He often fires up his rallies by promising that “If I become president, we’re all going to be saying ‘Merry Christmas’ again.” It’s that 1930’s totalitarianism that makes him think he can decide what we are all going to say.

UPDATE: The Anti-Defamation League investigated the claims that the family fled their home due to threats following false stories about the cancellation of a school Christmas play. They found that the family actually left on a planned vacation, but the other facts remain unchanged. There were stories that accused the family of being responsible for the cancellation, and they were harassed.

Republicans In Congress Are TERRIFIED Of Trump And His ‘Horde Of Enforcers’

Donald Trump ran roughshod over his GOP opponents in the 2016 Republican primaries. It was a scorched Earth style campaign that left his foes, not just beaten, but humiliated. He didn’t merely challenge their policy positions or leadership skills, he used language meant to shame them. Fellow Republicans were viciously maligned as “Lyin’ Ted’ and “Little Marco.” Eventually Trump succeeded in capturing the nomination, but not without leaving bodies on the battlefield.

Trump/Bannon

Those same tactics are now being deployed against the Republicans in Congress. Many of them are saying privately that they are fearful of taking positions against Trump. That poses a critical problem because their traditionally conservative views are often at odds with Trump’s twisted brand of populism. Trumpulism favors cordial relations with Russia and its strongman Vladimir Putin. It proposes to spend a trillion dollars on infrastructure improvements, mainly benefiting wealthy contractors. It is critical of the U.S. alliance with NATO. It would impose stiff tariffs on American companies with foreign factories. All of these positions are in direct opposition to decades of Republican doctrine.

The problem now is that Republicans are literally afraid to speak their minds. They have been warned by Trump and his surrogates that any diversion from total obedience to his agenda would be viewed as betrayal. As reported by Politico:

“It’s little wonder that Capitol Hill Republicans have papered over their not-insignificant policy differences with Trump, shying away from any statement about the president-elect that might possibly be construed as critical. They’re terrified of arousing the ire of their tempestuous new leader — or being labeled a turncoat by his army of followers.” […]

“Since the election, numerous congressional Republicans have refused to publicly weigh in on any Trump proposal at odds with Republican orthodoxy, from his border wall to his massive infrastructure package. The most common reason, stated repeatedly but always privately: They’re afraid of being attacked by Breitbart or other big-name Trump supporters.”

The threat from Breitbart is a real concern. Especially since its chairman, Stephen Bannon, is currently on leave to serve as Trump’s strategic advisor in the White House. But it doesn’t stop there. As South Carolina GOP Rep. Mark Sanford said, “People are naturally reticent to be the first out of the block for fear of Sean Hannity, for fear of Breitbart, for fear of local folks.”

Texas Rep. Bill Flores can attest to Sanford’s worries. After he made some rather tame remarks at a conservative conference, the Trump enforcers snapped into action. Breitbart began with an article condemning Flores for plotting to “stifle Trump’s campaign promises.” Sean Hannity of Fox News picked up the story and added his own vitriolic objections. He implied that Flores was using code to tell Trump to “Go to hell.” Subsequently, Flores was showered with complaints that included predictions of the end of his political career and even death threats. Never mind that he is one of the most conservative members of the House and a co-founder of its arch right-wing Freedom Caucus.

The media component of Trump’s Crusaders is a key to their intimidation tactics. They have the power of Fox News as well as dozens of other right-wing media outlets. Strain all of that through Facebook and Twitter and you get a powerful amplification of their defamatory propaganda.

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

The rest of the GOP caucus is learning a lesson from this. They are choosing to keep their mouths shut rather than risk offending Trump or his defenders. The StormTrumpers stand at the ready to crucify any Republican they view as disloyal or insufficiently resolute. It’s a chilling state of affairs that impinges on the core principles of democracy. And in that regard, it should not be a surprise coming from the Trump camp. His authoritarian leanings have been apparent from the start of his campaign. And since it’s clear that Republicans can’t be relied upon to defend democracy, Democrats better be prepared to do it.

Fox News Doubles Down On Stupid: Tucker Carlson Gets Primetime Show

It was three months ago that Roger Ailes stepped down from his post as CEO of Fox News amid allegations of sexual harassment. Subsequently there has been much speculation as to the future direction of the network without its longstanding guiding force. Well, for anyone who thought there would be a tempering of Fox’s stridently conservative bias, you’re optimism was unfounded.

Tucker Carlson Fox News

Thursday Fox News announced that the vacancy left by Greta Van Susteren’s sudden departure would be filled by Tucker Carlson. Currently Carlson is a co-host of the weekend version of the Fox & Friends morning show. In that role he has ably fulfilled the Fox mandate to spew right-wing propaganda and smear Democrats. In the process he has cultivated an attitude of smug superiority while advancing a racist, misogynistic agenda.

For the record, Carlson is also the owner of the ultra-conservative web rag, The Daily Caller. As a publisher Carlson demonstrated his aversion to ethical journalism. In one instance he spiked an article that contained a criticism of Fox News for not being sufficiently anti-immigrant. Despite the fact that the piece castigated President Obama as a lawless tyrant, Carlson could not abide any Fox bashing. The article’s author said that Carlson told him “We can’t trash Fox on the site. I work there.” In other words, the Daily Caller is Fox’s puppet where free speech, and thought, is prohibited.

Additionally, the Daily Caller embraces the white supremacist alt-right movement that has adopted Donald Trump as its leader. In a wide-ranging essay about the budding “ethno-nationalism” crusades, Luke O’Brien writes for the Huffington Post about the relationships between America’s hate groups and the media. He singles out Carlson’s Daily Caller saying that:

“Other conservative sites, even ones that prefer bowties, appear to have accepted that angry right-wing populism translates into clicks. Take The Daily Caller, which now runs its fair share of immigrant knife-attack stories and Jew-baiting George Soros exposes. The reader comments on the site are at times indistinguishable in tone and racist content from those on Breitbart.”

That’s the same Breitbart News whose chairman, Stephen Bannon, is currently the CEO of Trump’s campaign for president. Bannon is also chairman of the Government Accountability Institute whose president, Peter Schweizer, authored the book “Clinton Cash.” Despite being filled with errors and lies, that book has been cited as the source for the FBI’s fatally biased review of the Clinton Foundation. It was also the subject of an hour-long special on Fox News. Oh, what a tangled web.

Prior to joining Fox News, Carlson’s career was a pitiful collection of failures. He had been canceled by PBS, CNN, and MSNBC. And if that wasn’t embarrassing enough, he was the first contestant voted off of Dancing with the Stars. He seemed to be a recidivist loser with no reasonable hope for redemption. He had even burned bridges with regard to Fox News when, after a childish prank (by both of them), he called Fox “a mean, sick group of people.”

Fortunately, For Carlson, Fox News has a policy of dredging the sewers of pseudo-journalism and rescuing the most offensive and desperate rejects, giving them a second chance at salvation. Of course that forgiveness comes at the cost of their soul. It rests on their willingness to supplicate themselves to their new savior. So when Fox called, Carlson went crawling back with his tail between his legs and fully prepared to obey.

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

Carlson knows his place and did what was expected of an indentured servant to the Wingnut Overlord. His reward is a spanking new program in primetime access where he can deliver his radically rightist, poorly reasoned rants. And he’ll fit right in with Bill O’Reilly, Megyn Kelly, and Sean Hannity. Proving that Fox News intends to continue being a fount of conservative propaganda, and a mouthpiece for Republican dogma, for many years to come.

And for your entertainment pleasure, here is the classic episode of CNN’s Crossfire where Jon Stewart called Carlson a “dick” and humiliated him so badly the show was cancelled soon after.

Deplorable Trump Shames Non-Christians At Rally, Asks ‘Should We Keep Them’? (VIDEO)

From the very first day of Donald Trump’s campaign for president he’s used tactics and language that is patently offensive and divisive. The central theme of his “movement” is expressed in his slogan “Make America great again.” There is an explicit suggestion in it that America isn’t currently great. Trump’s solution is to build walls and separate Americans from one another on the basis of race and religion.

Donald Trump

At a rally yesterday in Iowa Trump displayed the ultimate result (final solution?) of a political message that drives people apart. In a portion of his stump speech he sought to brag about the support he gets from evangelical Christians. It’s a curious base of followers considering his transparently phony adoption of faith for political gain. Nevertheless, they have flocked to him in surprising numbers. In recognition of that, Trump called on his conservative Christian disciples to identify themselves by raising their hands. But then he went a horrifying step further:

“Raise your hand if you’re NOT a Christian conservative. I want to see this, right? Oh there’s a couple people. That’s all right. I think we’ll keep them, right? Should we keep them in the room? Yes, I think so.”

Well, isn’t that generous of him? They can stay in the room. But maybe they should be required to wear yellow badges and have their passports stamped with red letters. Making non-Christians identify themselves in a public setting after praising the faithful is disconcerting at best and overtly threatening at worst. Who exactly was he speaking to? The Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, Atheists, Muslims, etc.? He has already proposed prohibiting Muslims from entering the country, and now all non-Christians may be ejected from his rallies. Unless he decides that he needs their votes to ascend to power. Even as a joke (which will probably be his excuse) this is nauseating.

More likely he is speaking to the white, Christian supremacists of the alt-right movement that has embraced his candidacy. The CEO of his campaign, Stephen Bannon, is also the chief executive of Breitbart News, the leading alt-right website. And you can rest assured that those audiences hear Trump’s message loud and clear.

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

The bald-faced bigotry of Trump’s remarks yesterday is consistent with the familiar prejudices that have permeated his campaign. It’s impossible to separate the rabid devotion of racists like David Duke from the Trump movement. His supporters ought to be asking themselves how they can vote for someone who has such a strong appeal among such despicable hate mongers. And if they can still justify putting someone like Trump in the White House, they are proving that Hillary Clinton was right. They are deplorable.

And doesn’t the rally in this video look familiar?