Trump White House Sinks Into a Bunker Mentality to Avoid Answering Questions from the Press

There’s a lot going on in Washington these days. Perhaps more of a serious nature than at any time in modern history. Donald Trump has demonstrated ineptitude across a broad array of issues and responsibilities. He’s under investigation for obstruction of justice and unsavory connections to Russia as they sought to interfere with the election. Add to that the President’s improper financial dealings that may violate the Constitution. Then throw in the floundering Republican agenda to repeal ObamaCare, reform taxes, build walls, and defeat ISIS. What you have is a super-heated goulash of White House controversies boiling over.

Trump Bunker

All of these matters are of critical importance to the American people. And the institution that keeps the public informed is the press corps whose freedom is guaranteed by the First Amendment. That makes this a bad time for the White House to build a wall between the President and the people. But that’s exactly what Trump’s White House is doing. In a bold move to silence the media, the White House Press Office has cut back on briefings. And when they hold them, they are prohibiting the use of cameras or recording devices. On Monday, CNN’s Jim Acosta expressed some of his frustration on the air (video below):

“The White House press secretary is getting to a point where he’s just kinda useless. If he can’t come out and answer the questions, and their not gonna do this on camera or on audio, why are we even having these briefings or gaggles in the first place?”

Acosta went on to lament the “stonewalling” by the White House that has refused to answer questions even after promising to do so. Left dangling are queries into whether the President has secret Oval Office tapes, and if he believes in climate change. And so much more:

“I don’t know what world we’re living in. We’re standing at the White House and they bring us into the briefing room here at the White House and they won’t answer these questions on camera or let us record the audio. I don’t know why everybody is going along with this. It just doesn’t make any sense to me.

“And it just feels like we’re slowly but surely being dragged into what is a new normal in this country where the President of the United States is allowed to insulate himself from answering hard questions. He hasn’t had a full blown press conference since February.”

That’s four months of cowering the bunker for the embattled and frightened President. Concluding that the briefings conducted in this manner were “pointless,” Acosta reiterated his surprise that the press corps goes along with the administration’s tactics. He complained that “this isn’t how we do things in this country.” But Acosta may not have factored in how this country does things under a wannabe tyrant like Donald Trump. He did however note in a tweet that:

To make matters worse, Trump’s press team may be looking to shake things up. According to Politico they have interviewed Laura Ingraham as a replacement for Sean Spicer as press secretary. That would put a Fox News contributor in front of a press corps that is already being lied to on a daily basis. This must be what they call “winning.”

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

MSNBC Reaches HUGE Ratings Milestone as Fox News is dragged Down By Right-Wing Millstone

Donald Trump’s presidency continues to be the victim of an unrelenting cascade of scandalous news. At the same time, ironically, Fox News appears to be the victim of Donald Trump. As the President’s fortune’s sink ever lower, so do the ratings for Fox News. And it’s no coincidence.

Rachel Maddow

This week MSNBC hit a significant milestone. For the first time ever the network topped the weekly primetime ratings in a commanding fashion. For both total viewers and the critical 25-54 year old advertising demographic, MSNBC led all of cable news. This was a broadly based ratings win that stretched beyond the network’s powerhouse, Rachel Maddow. All In with Chris Hayes, The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell, and The 11th Hour with Brian Williams all won their time periods.

Simultaneously, Fox News descended to lows that it hasn’t seen in seventeen years. They came in third in the demo in primetime behind both MSNBC and CNN. This is fairly conclusive evidence that the media landscape is shifting in the Era of Trump. MSNBC’s primetime lineup has proven to be popular as the nation seeks in-depth coverage of Trump’s floundering White House. Viewers appreciate the perspective and analysis of clear-eyed anchors and guests.

The problem for Fox News is that their entire business model works against them in this environment. The editorial practice on Fox is to hype anything and everything that reflects negatively on Democrats and liberals. Conversely, they avoid or underplay any news that harms their benefactors on the right. Since almost all of the news these days is horrible for Republicans, Fox News is trapped in a vortex of right-wing happy-talk. And worse, they are ideologically precluded from reporting what viewers are most interested in.

Every day there seems to another bombshell story related to Trump’s alleged collusion with Russian operatives. These are among the most compelling stories of any news cycle. The American people want to know whether the President engaged in potentially impeachable conduct. They want to know if he’s in cahoots with foreign enemies. In addition, there are numerous other topics that cast the administration in a bad light. They include: the much despised Republican proposal to repeal and replace ObamaCare; Trump’s tax reform that benefits the wealthy at the expense of the rest of us; the foreign and military affairs wherein Trump exposes his profound ignorance; the financial conflicts of interest by the President and his family; and the many episodes of embarrassing and/or unlawful behavior by his advisers and associates.

But Fox News won’t cover any of that. At least not in any detail. So if news consumers want to know what’s going on they have to switch away from Fox. And they are doing so in droves. MSNBC is clearly the biggest beneficiary of this. While viewers know there’s an editorial slant during the network’s primetime, they appreciate the exhaustive research and factual basis. Particularly with breakout star Rachel Maddow. CNN has also grown their ratings, but their obsession with phony balance and artificially combative debate limits their upside.

Fox is likely to continue its downward spiral. And not just because of their reporting embargo on actual breaking news. In the past year they have lost their CEO, Roger Ailes, and biggest star, Bill O’Reilly, to sex scandals. They also lost Bill Shine, the executive who replaced Ailes. They are under investigation by the New York Attorney General for financial securities violations. Among their on-air personalities they saw the departures of Gretchen Carlson, Megyn Kelly, Andrea Tantaros, and Julie Roginsky. And their only African-American anchor, Kelly Wright, is a plaintiff in a racial discrimination lawsuit along with twelve others. The list of litigants against Fox for racial and gender discrimination continues to grow.

Meanwhile, MSNBC is enjoying record audience growth. Maddow and her primetime colleagues are doing what was once considered unthinkable. They are beating Fox News. Recent reports that suggested that MSNBC might not renew the contract of Lawrence O’Donnell launched a massive outcry that may have forced the network to the negotiating table.

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

The trends are decidedly in MSNBC’s favor. They have the content and the public on their side. While Fox News is struggling without leadership, star power, or news that appeals to their glassy-eyed disciples. We can expect the fates of Fox and Trump to continue to slide in sync with one another. And as they both alienate TV viewers, the nation, and the world, their influence will decline to match their dishonest and loathsome reputations.

UPDATE: MSNBC’s hot streak continued to win the whole month of May for weeknights in primetime.

CNN Anchor Wickedly Mocks Guest Who Said Trump Was ‘Presidential’ for Not Sounding Like a Drunk

America’s national embarrassment (aka Donald Trump) continues to be scored on a standard that is starkly different than any president that preceded him. The fact that he is universally regarded as ignorant and incompetent may be helping his media coverage. Trump has a tendency to veer off into personal invective and delusional accounts of well documented events. His erratic and ego-laden rants and tweets have set an uncommonly low bar for criticism.

Donald Trump

Consequently, we’re subjected to a president who is lauded as “presidential” simply by failing to cross his eyes or drool. This happens over and over again as the media repeatedly demonstrates its severely short-term memory. Trump can behave like a choleric, tantrum-throwing infant for weeks on end. He’ll hurl insults and lies without the slightest hint of shame. Then he’ll manage to read off a Teleprompter for half an hour and the press will go wild with acclaim.

This pattern has revealed itself several times in the four months Trump has been in office. It generally occurs following tightly staged affairs such as his inauguration speech or his address to Congress. Sometimes he can suppress his true obnoxious self long enough get through a joint press conference with a foreign leader. But the press reaction is all too predictable. They declare that Trump has finally proven that he has the mettle to hold his office. Never mind everything else he’s said and done throughout his campaign and White House residency.

The latest example of this cognitive collapse occurred Sunday night on CNN. Bob Schieffer, the former host of Face the Nation, was interviewed by CNN’s John Berman. The subject was Trump’s speech in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. It was a stodgy collection of warmed over platitudes and talking points. But Trump recited the words on his Teleprompter screen without baring his teeth or convulsing. Therefore, when Schieffer was asked for his appraisal of Trump’s performance he said:

“Today, you saw a very different President Trump. He actually sounded presidential. You may agree or disagree with what he said, but he sounded like a president. He laid out his vision. He called for help from those in the Muslim world. It was a much different kind of presentation.” […]

“I think there would be very few people who would disagree with me when I say that he helped himself today. Because he didn’t sound like the guy at the end of the bar popping off. He sounded like someone who actually thought about what he was gonna say before he said it.”

You have to wonder whether Schieffer thought about what he was gonna say before he said it. There are likely very many people who would disagree with the assertion that Trump helped himself. More to the point. there are certainly many people who don’t think that avoiding sounding like a drunken souse is equivalent to sounding presidential. Berman appropriately challenged Schieffer to explain whether he was “normalizing” Trump’s malignant immaturity. “You’re saying,” Berman bagan, “that because he met this very low bar for not sounding foolish, he was in fact presidential.”

Exactly. That’s how many in the media grade Trump. But since when was “not sounding foolish” the only prerequisite for being considered presidential? It may be the best that anyone can expect from Trump, but it should not be established as the new criteria. Honest journalists need to compare Trump to historical standards for the job, not his own worst failures.

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

Former FOX NEWS Anchor Reveals That Roger Ailes Demanded Submission Sexually AND Politically

The culture of sexual harassment at Fox News has been well documented in the past few months. The most notorious consequences have been the staggering dismissals of Fox’s CEO Roger Ailes and its ratings leader Bill O’Reilly. However, the whole story has still not been told. More women are said to be coming forward with more allegations aimed at more of Fox News’ abusive personnel.

Roger Ailes Fox News

Sunday morning on CNN’s Reliable Sources another victim of Fox’s depraved work environment told her story. Alisyn Camerota, currently an anchor on CNN, worked for sixteen years at Fox News. She was interviewed about her experience by Brian Stelter. Her story was disturbing, but not unlike the stories of many other women who suffered harassment at Fox. [Video below]

Stelter began the segment by noting that “The culture of harassment at Fox News came from the top down. It came from Roger Ailes.” Then he pointedly asked Camerota if Ailes had ever sexually harassed her. She replied “Yes. Roger Ailes did sexually harass me.” She continued:

“He was often grossly inappropriate with things that he would say. And I think that many of us experienced that. He would talk about body parts. He would say ‘give me spin.’ He’d want to be greeted with a hug.”

Then Camerota unveiled a more salacious incident in detail. She said that Ailes told her that in order to advance her career she would have to “work with him.” They would have to get to know each other better, and that would have to be done away from the office in a hotel. Then he asked suggestively, “Do you know what I’m saying?” Of course she did.

Camerota then goes on to describe what happened following her refusal to comply with Ailes’ sexual demands. And while not as personally repulsive, his behavior illustrates something else that makes Fox News a wholly disreputable source of journalism. Camerota confirms that the network’s “fair and balanced” pretense is a sham. “In Roger’s world view,” she says, “there was no other side. Liberals were always wrong, conservatives were generally right, and that’s what he felt that we should be reflecting on the air.” Ailes aimed his insistence on political bias directly at Camerota:

“Roger Ailes ruled with an iron fist. He wanted us all to fall in line and have his world view and say the things that he wanted us to say on Fox News. And he targeted me because he sort of figured out early on that I didn’t share his world view. He said, ‘You’re not saying the conservative things that I want you to say. You could be a real model and you could be a real star if only you could sound conservative.'”

The evidence of the ultra rightist slant at Fox News is readily visible on the air everyday. But there aren’t very many personal accounts of the pressure people were under to conform to its conservative orthodoxy. Camerota’s first-hand account is a valuable contribution to the case against Fox News. And the fact that her experience transverses from the lurid to the professional makes it that much more compelling.

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

OH LORD: CNN’s Trump Fluffer Calls Trump ‘The Martin Luther King Of Health Care’

Last month Donald Trump watched impotently as the healthcare bill he championed went down in flames. The House of Representatives, certain of failure, didn’t even bring it up for a vote. Perhaps the fact that only seventeen percent of the American people were in favor of the GOP’s efforts to ditch ObamaCare had something to do with it.

CNN Jeffrey Lord

Now Trump is pretending that he didn’t fail at all. Contrary to reality, he contends that his plan is still being negotiated. As part of the alleged negotiations Trump threatened to withhold subsidy payments from millions of low income Americans. That would effectively cancel their insurance. So he is using these citizens as hostages to force Democrats into capitulating and voting against ObamaCare.

That was the subject of a debate on CNN Thursday morning (video below). Host Alisyn Camerota opened the discussion with a quote from Trump explicitly spelling out his attempt at blackmail:

“President Trump is considering making a drastic move to try to get Obamacare repealed. He is threatening to withhold billions of dollars in subsidies that the poorest Americans rely on. President Trump telling The Wall Street Journal, ‘Obamacare is dead next month if it doesn’t get that money. I don’t want people to get hurt. What I think should happen and will happen is the Democrats will start calling me and negotiating.'”

The tone of Trump’s message is reminiscent of a Mafioso ultimatum. “That’s a nice healthy family you got there. I don’t want people to get hurt. So you better do as I say.” Sen. Chuck Schumer shouldn’t be surprised if he wakes up next to severed horse’s head. Democratic commentator Symone Sanders observed the callousness in Trump’s threat and responded:

“The president sees millions of people that are benefiting from health insurance that are on the ACA [Affordable Care Act]. But he sees bargaining chips. He doesn’t see lives. He doesn’t see that he’s putting people in danger.”

Trump’s inclination to use sick people as human shields is an amoral negotiating tactic. It would hurt innocent people who have no direct voice in the negotiations. Nevertheless, the tactic was defended by CNN’s Jeffrey Lord. And he chose perhaps the most offensive line of defense imaginable:

“Think of President Trump as the Martin Luther King of health care. When I was a kid, President Kennedy did not want to introduce the civil rights bill because he said it wasn’t popular. He didn’t have the votes for it, etc. Dr. King kept putting people in the streets in harm’s way to put the pressure on so that the bill would be introduced. That’s what finally worked.”

First of all, no sane person could compare Trump’s efforts to deny health for millions with King’s movement to bring about equality for all. Secondly, Trump isn’t asking people to voluntarily take to the streets in protest. He’s holding a knife to their throats while demanding obedience from Democrats. A fair analogy would be if King threatened to harm African-Americans if Congress didn’t accede to his demands. Try to imagine King putting a gun to the head of a citizen and saying “Pass the Civil Rights bill or the black guy gets it.” That’s the equivalent of what Trump is doing to health insurance recipients. Lord’s argument was preposterous on its face, and Sanders wasn’t having it:

“Jeffrey, you do understand that Dr. King was marching for civil rights because people that looked like me were being beaten? Dogs were being sicced on them. Basic human rights were being withheld from these people merely because the color of their skin. So let’s not equate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a humanitarian and Nobel Peace Prize winner, to the vagina-grabbing President Donald Trump.”

That pretty much says it all. By attempting to compare Trump with Dr. King, Lord only succeeded in making the differences between them more apparent. But he isn’t doing any worse than the rest of the Republican haters. None of them have any coherent arguments to support their heartless agenda, so they resort to these absurd mischaracterizations. And that makes it all the more puzzling that CNN would give someone like Lord a platform to disseminate his lies.

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

Former FBI Agent On Trump’s Loyalties: It’s Trump 1st, Russia 2nd and the Rest of America 3rd

Clint Watts, a fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, appeared before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday. The former FBI agent was called to give testimony about the unfolding allegations of collusion between Russia and Donald Trump. His testimony addressed many of the most troubling aspects of Trump’s unsavory connections to Russia during the 2016 election.

Trump/Putin

After his testimony, Watts was interviewed by Wolf Blitzer on CNN. He affirmed much of what he told the committee and described the objectives of the Russian operatives. Watts was straight forward with this assessment of the situation:

Blitzer: What was Putin’s objective in all of this?

Watts: The ultimate objective is to destroy democracies from the inside out. What he wants to do is erode trust and sow divisions in the U.S. electorate.

Watts went on to say that intelligence operatives saw hacks and leaks that were “synchronized” with the Trump campaign. “That tends to lead to the belief that there was coordination,” he said. He also spoke about the “trail of dead Russians” that could lead to the confirmation of allegations raised by the infamous Trump dossier.”

This is about as close as any witness has come to asserting a direct relationship between Trump’s campaign and the Russians. The CIA has already confirmed that Russian operatives were working to help Trump get elected and to hurt Hillary Clinton. The risks facing Watts for his testimony were on his mind during the Senate hearings. He told Blitzer that:

“If I speak today, my bank account could be compromised, I could be discredited through compromising materials, some true some false, but I think the biggest concern is I’m not confident right now that the U.S. government would actually come to bat for me. I’ve seen President Trump call for Russia to leak emails against a political opponent, I’ve seen him discredit the U.S. intelligence community to cite conspiracies that he’s seen on his Twitter feed.

“So, if I say things that the Trump administration doesn’t like or that is counter to Putin, I’m not sure it’s not Trump first, Russia second and the rest of America third.”

That description of Trump’s loyalties should send chills down the spine of every American. Watts’ career has put him in dangerous positions around the world. He is no shrinking violet. But his doubts amount to an indictment of Trump’s patriotism. Watts added that the Trump White House could not be relied on for anything but its own self-interests. “They will push falsehoods to achieve political objectives,” he said, “before they will push the truth for the American people.”

That has been borne out many times as Trump and his spokespersons disseminate “alternative facts” and cast false accusations at critics and the press. It is part of a grand strategy to discredit anyone who dares to find fault with the President. But as the Russian scandals compound, Trump is finding it increasingly more difficult to defend himself and his cohorts.

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

SRSLY? Trump’s Defense For His Mountain Of Bullsh*t Is That He Heard It On TV

Donald Trump made a lot of boastful promises during his campaign. He assured his supporters that he was smartest, richest, bestest at whatever particular pursuit was the topic at the moment. He knew more about ISIS than the generals. His were the best words. And the person he consulted most on national security was himself. But the only thing he has actually excelled in is racking up records for lies and embarrassing misstatements.

Fox News Donald Trump

On Thursday a Time Magazine interview with Trump offered an explanation for his endless stream of gaffes. However, his attempt at clearing up his trail of lies was littered with even more lies. Most notably, his first stab at redemption was to deny that he lied at all. “Name what’s wrong! I mean, honestly,” he said. Then he launched into a litany of past pronouncements which he defended as evidence of his unquestionable veracity. They included having predicted Brexit (he didn’t), allegations of voter fraud (that never happened), criticisms of NATO (about which he was wrong), refugee violence in Sweden (that was made up), and assertions that thousands of Muslims in New Jersey celebrated 9/11 (which he must have hallucinated).

Topping the list was his most recent display of cow droppings – that President Obama wiretapped his phones in Trump Tower. After baselessly tweeting that his predecessor was guilty of a felony, Trump tried to pass it off as hearsay:

“I quoted Judge Napolitano, just like I quoted Bret Baier, I mean Bret Baier mentioned the word wiretap. Now he can now deny it, or whatever he is doing, you know. But I watched Bret Baier, and he used that term. I have a lot of respect for Judge Napolitano, and he said that three sources have told him things that would make me right. I don’t know where he has gone with it since then. But I’m quoting highly respected people from highly respected television networks.”

First of all, Bret Baier not only did not back up Trump’s reckless charges, he affirmatively denied them. “The Fox News division was never able to back up those claims,” said Baier. And Napolitano’s comments were so outrageously false that they earned him an indefinite suspension from Fox News. That’s why Trump doesn’t “know where he has gone with it since then.”

But the most troubling part of Trump’s execrable excuse was that he was just “quoting highly respected people from highly respected television networks.” This is the President of the United States admitting that his sources were TV pundits and commentators. Never mind that he has the world’s most extensive network of intelligence agencies at his disposal. He doesn’t rely on national security professionals or diplomats or academics or legal experts. No, not the bestest president ever. He relies on TV’s talking heads.

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

What’s more, it cannot be forgotten that Trump relentlessly bashes the media as “fake news.” They are, he said, the enemy of the American people.” So it’s unlikely that the respected networks to which he’s referring include CNN or NBC. In fact, the only network that he has offered any praise is Fox News. And, as anyone in journalism will tell you, they are not especially well respected. So it doesn’t provide much comfort that our lying president gets his misinformation from lying networks who get their misinformation from their overactive, right-wing imaginations.

BLACKOUT: This is How Fox News Intentionally Keeps Its Viewers Stupid

There have been innumerable examples of Fox News airing false reports in an effort to misinform their viewers. A recent example just within the past week alleged that President Obama recruited British spies to conduct surveillance on Donald Trump’s campaign. Fox’s senior judicial analyst, Andrew Napolitian, made the claim without any supporting evidence. The network’s news division later refuted the report and put Napolitano on an indefinite leave. But that was after the story had been disseminated worldwide, creating an international incident. Even Trump’s press secretary, Sean Spicer (Fibby Spice) cited the fake news during a White House press briefing.

Go Fox Yourself

However, another way of shaping an ignorant electorate is to refrain from covering important events. The choice of what not to cover is just as significant as what to cover. And on Tuesday Fox News demonstrated their determination to deny their audience information that is unarguably newsworthy.

The House Intelligence Committee’s hearings on Russia’s efforts to interfere with the 2016 presidential election were broadcast live by most news networks. Testimony by FBI Director James Comey revealed for the first time that the FBI was investigating Trump and his associates. The proceedings were unusually compelling for a congressional hearing. And the proof of that came when Fox News decided to cease coverage of the hearings to host a panel of right-wing talking heads instead.

Fox was the only network that interrupted the live broadcast. And by doing so they deprived their viewers of first hand knowledge of what was happening at the hearings. What’s worse is that they replaced the hearings with conservative pundits providing a blatantly biased analysis. It was a deliberate programming strategy designed to advance the messaging of an embattled White House.

Unfortunately for Fox News, it may not have worked this time. Ratings for the cable news networks show that when Fox cut away from the hearings they lost about 29 percent of their audience. That’s a massive shift by viewers who were obviously disappointed by Fox’s programming decision. What’s more, viewers were plainly following the hearings to other channels. The ratings for CNN and MSNBC both spiked after Fox cut away.

This tells us that the American people are acutely interested in this matter. They want to know more about the potentially treasonous activities of their president. By suppressing that information Fox succeeded only in alienating their audience and further eroding their credibility. Plus, they probably don’t want to send their viewers off to competing networks.

The Trump administration has brought newfound prosperity to liberal programming. The Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC has toppled Fox from its perch atop the ratings hill. She has won her time period for the past two weeks straight. Saturday Night Live, despite Trump’s insulting tweets (or because of them) has seen its best ratings in years. Stephen Colbert’s Late Show is now leading his late night talk show competition.

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

All of this suggests that Americans are hungry for honest reporting. They are tired of Fox’s propaganda and the phony “balance” sought by CNN and other conventional news outlets. They want the press to be skeptical when appropriate and aggressive when necessary. They know there’s something amiss in the Trump White House and they don’t want it papered over. And they are not going to sit still when a network like Fox decides that they don’t need to know what’s really going on. Fox News needs to adjust a new viewer mantra: We have remotes, and we’re prepared to use them.

FINALLY: CNN Calls Out Trump For ‘A Presidency Shaped By Fox News’

From the beginning of Donald Trump’s candidacy he was fawned over by adoring anchors and pundits on Fox News. They rushed to defend him at every turn and praised whatever lame-brained or hateful scheme he would propose. The network turned over so many hours of valuable airtime they should have been designated as campaign contributions. He had a long-running regular segment on Fox and Friends called “Mondays with Trump.” And Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity kept the door open for him to appear, or call in, at his convenience.

CNN Brian Stelter

Since becoming president, Trump has made a habit of harvesting topics from his obsessive viewing of Fox. There have been numerous instances of him tweeting about something that had aired shortly before on his favorite network. He clearly relies more on conspiracy theories from Fox than he does on the intelligence agencies that work for him. It’s a perverse and frightening state of affairs.

Sunday, on CNN’s Reliable Sources, host Brian Stelter delivered a commentary about this titled “Welcome to the Fox News Presidency.” It was a long overdue examination of the incestuous relationship between Trump and Fox. Stelter began by noting that:

“Five of his seven sit-down TV interviews since taking office have been with Fox News. Trump watches Fox. He tweets about Fox. He uses Fox graphics to advance his agenda. He’s hired Fox talking heads. He promotes Fox as fair while denigrating its rivals as fake. All of this amounts to a Fox News presidency. What I mean by that is a presidency shaped by Fox News in all sorts of ways, big and small.”

Indeed. Trump has exhibited an abject fear of taking questions from any news organization other than his pals at Fox. His assaults on the free press are frequent and biting (as well as childish and false). But his compliments for Fox are effusive and unrestrained. Meanwhile, anyone critical of Trump often finds themselves locked out. Just ask Megyn Kelly and George Will. Independent thought is not a value favored by Fox executives. Perhaps Shepard Smith should watch his back.

In addition to the Trumpification of Fox News, there has been a simultaneous Foxification of the Trump administration. Former Foxies on the White House payroll include K.T. McFarland, Ben Carson, Sebastion Gorka, Heather Nauert, and Jonathan Wachtel. Fox’s Monica Crowley was also hired by Trump, but she was forced to resign after the rampant plagiarism in her book was revealed. This is an unprecedented migration of media hacks to political flacks.

Stelter’s commentary is an encouraging, albeit late, beginning for the media honestly characterizing the formation of Trump’s Ministry of Propaganda. More of this reporting will be necessary as Trump continues to steamroll the First Amendment and blur the lines between media and politics.

Trump recently told Fox’s Tucker Carlson that “When I have close to 100 million people watching me on [social media…] I have my own form of media.” Someone should tell him that another term for a president with his “own form of media” is “state-run media.” The press is not supposed to be a tool for the president’s communications. That’s how it’s done in dictatorships, but not in America. Maybe Trump has been consulting too much with his BFF, Vladimir Putin.

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

CNN’s Fareed Zakaria Doesn’t Mince Words, Tags Trump As A Life-Long Bullsh*tter

The record of Donald Trump’s pathological aversion to the truth is well documented (see the Trump Bullshitopedia). With every day that goes by he introduces a new, self-serving lie. His purpose is generally to vindicate himself from some embarrassing display of ignorance or policy stumble. Either that or to distract from more serious misconduct such as his unsavory connections to Russia, or financial conflicts.

CNN Fareed Zakaria

The media is usually too timid to accurately describe Trump’s falsehoods as lies. Even when the evidence is overwhelming. However, they have been showing some improvement in that area. Friday on CNN’s “Tonight with Don Lemon,” guest Fareed Zakaria launched into a righteous condemnation of Trump, complete with an appropriate profanity:

“I think the president is somewhat indifferent to things that are true or false. He has spent his whole life bullshitting. He has succeeded by bullshitting. He has gotten the presidency by bullshitting. It’s very hard to tell somebody at that point that bullshit doesn’t work, because look at the results, right? But that’s what he does. He sees something, he doesn’t particularly care if it’s true or not, he just puts it out there. And then he puts something else out. And notice again what he did at the press conference. When pushed on it, he doesn’t take responsibility. ‘I wasn’t saying that, I was just quoting somebody else.'”

Indeed. At the joint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Trump was confronted with his preposterous assertion that Obama had wiretapped his phones. His press secretary, Sean Spicer, cited a Fox News report that Obama had been aided by British intelligence as confirmation. It didn’t take long for that story to fall apart, with offended British authorities saying it was “ridiculous.” So Trump backpedaled by trying to blame it all on Fox News.

Zakaria’s larger point, however, is one that is too often overlooked. For most of his adult life Donald Trump has bullshitted his way to success. Or used bullshit to explain away his many failures. He did this with his real estate ventures, his phony university, his retail products, and even his marriages and affairs. He has never demonstrated the honesty or integrity that ought to be associated with leadership. His profile was always one of a huckster or con man, bragging about imaginary achievements. It is refreshing to see someone in the media who isn’t afraid to tell it like it is.

This was not the first time that Zakaria observed Trump’s predilection for prevarication. Last fall he devoted nearly five minutes on his own program to a segment titled “Trump Is A B.S. Artist.” Zakaria references an academic essay, “On Bullshit,” and draws parallels between that and Trump’s public behavior. It’s a thing of beauty. And here is that segment for your viewing pleasure:

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