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.

Former GOP Intel Committee Chair: Vladimir Putin Should Be Feeling Pretty Good Right About Now

The fallout from Donald Trump’s reckless and paranoid accusations that President Obama had wiretapped him continues to spread like wildfire. Ever since he tweeted these delusions, criticism has poured out from across the political spectrum. Voices as diverse as Republican senator Ben Sasse and Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi have called for investigations of these charges. One intelligence expert speculates that Trump is “getting buggy because he knows that he’s caught.”

CNN Mike Rogers

Sunday morning on CNN’s State of the Union a panel discussed the wiretap allegations with near universal disapproval. Most notable were the remarks of Mike Rogers (video below). Rogers is a Republican who chaired the House Intelligence Committee. Prior to his congressional service he was a special agent for the FBI and Army veteran. His experience and conservative credentials are unimpeachable. Which makes his comments on the wiretapping controversy particularly significant. When asked what might have motivated Trump to post his accusatory tweets, Rogers replied:

“I don’t understand why he did this. They just put another quarter in the conspiracy parking meter. They’ve extended this story for a week, two weeks? Makes no sense to me whatsoever.

“Two things. One: This should have been held, if he had that belief, and if he believed there had been some inappropriate behavior on behalf of the Justice Department doing this, then there are internal investigative mechanisms he should have used and called for. Making this a big public fight like this, I just think is wrong.”

Indeed. It is wrong both legally and politically. As knowledgeable people in the field have affirmed, it is not even within the powers of the president to do what Trump charged. Only a law enforcement entity can request a surveillance warrant, and even they would need approval from the FISA court. But what Rogers said next should send shockwaves through Trump’s White House and the Republican Party:

“As a matter of fact, the only winner in this whole thing has been Vladimir Putin. I mean, the Democrats are saying that he stole an election. And the President of the United States is saying ‘Don’t worry about it. He’s a pretty good guy.’ If I were Vladimir Putin I’d be feeling pretty good right about now.”

No kidding. Putin has managed to tamper with the electoral process of his biggest international rival. He has elevated his hand-picked candidate to the presidency of the United States. Now his pawn in Washington is implementing policies that Russia has long dreamed of. These include weakening the European Union, threatening the stability of NATO, and inserting wedges that separate America from allies such as Australia, Germany, and Japan.

And all the while, Trump continues to praise Putin. Trump has criticized Meryl Streep and Nordtrom’s more than Russia. But Streep and other Trump targets have not invaded Ukraine or murdered political rivals. At least that we know of. Perhaps disclosure of those atrocities are forthcoming in Trump’s future tweets.

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

Misdirection Play? That’s Trump’s New Euphemism For Lying; CNN Responds Perfectly

Prior to his address before the joint session of Congress, Donald Trump invited a group of reporters to join him for lunch. During the affair he surprised his guests with news of a significant change in immigration policy. His new position would permit millions of undocumented residents a pathway to legalization. What’s more, he was planning on announcing it in his speech that night. Needless to say, that would be the headline for reports coming out of this gathering.

CNN Misdirection Play

There was just one problem. Trump’s speech began and finished with no reference to immigrants other than his standard hard-line. He still planned to deport the “bad dudes” and build a wall. Plus, he introduced his “Victims of Immigrant Crime Engagement” (VOICE) task force to publicize criminal activity by immigrants. You know, the way the Germans did with the Jews in the 1930’s and 1940’s.

Equally peculiar was the fact Trump insisted on providing this information on “background.” That means he was acting as his own anonymous source just days after condemning the media for using anonymous sources. But what happened next really blew the lid off this charade.

CNN’s Sara Murray was among the reporters that Trump baited with his fake proposal. She spoke with anchor John King about “the bait and switch that the president pulled when it came to immigration.” Then she went on to engage with King in this exchange:

Murray: “Basically they fed up things that they thought these anchors would like. That they thought would give them positive press coverage for the next few hours. A senior administration official admitted that it was a ‘Misdirection Play.’

“And you will note that when the President was actually out there speaking to the American public, he didn’t talk about a path to legal status. He talked about reforming the legal immigration system so that it’s merit based. That means fewer low-skilled workers. Fewer people coming in on family ties. More people coming in on high-skilled visas. That is closer to a Stephen Miller, Stephen Bannon framework of the world than ‘Gang of Eight’ who pushed comprehensive immigration reform.”

King: “Interesting twist. Although it does make you wonder. So we’re not supposed to believe what the senior-most official at the lunch says – who then they allowed it to be the President’s name. We’re not supposed to believe what they say? Maybe we shouldn’t believe what they say.”

YA THINK? Trump and his cohorts have been lying for years. If anything, they escalated their lie production after taking up residence in the White House. And reporters are just now wondering if these scoundrels are believable? These are the same people who brought us “alternative facts.” They lie so frequently and openly that it’s impossible not to assume that they simply don’t care if they’re caught.

I suppose it’s encouraging that King and Murray seem to be questioning Trump’s veracity. Although it remains to be seen how long it will last. The media often behaves like a battered spouse who believes that the beatings will stop and the abuser will change. Trump delivers one speech where he doesn’t drool and insult Meryl Streep, and the press sing in unison that he’s now “presidential.” So the next time he says “good morning,” if the morning is actually pleasant, the press may declare him a virtuous truth-teller. They have a distinct masochistic side. Either that or they are so obsessed with ratings that they’d sell their mothers to ISIS.

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

YOU LIE: Trump Gives His Standard Lie-Riddled Stump Speech And The Media Swoons

In 2009, President Obama gave his first speech before a joint session of congress. He was famously interrupted by Rep. Joe Wilson of South Carolina who yelled out “You lie.” He was reacting to Obama’s claim that undocumented immigrants would not receive healthcare benefits, which was true. So you have to wonder where Rep. Wilson was last night while Donald Trump unloaded a truckload of lies.

Donald Trump Lies

The speech itself was almost identical to his previous speeches before adoring throngs of StormTrumpers. The only difference was the lower volume and fewer insults and personal attacks. The stream of blatant falsehoods spewed throughout the address were familiar to anyone who witnessed his prior performances (See The Trump Bullshitopedia). For instance:

  • We’ve defended the borders of other nations, while leaving our own borders wide open.
  • Our borders are far from open and illegal crossings have declined.

  • Since my election, Ford, Fiat-Chrysler, General Motors, Sprint, Softbank, Lockheed, Intel, Walmart, and many others, have announced that they will invest billions of dollars in the United States and will create tens of thousands of new American jobs. The stock market has gained almost three trillion dollars in value since the election on November 8th, a record. We’ve saved taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars by bringing down the price of the fantastic new F-35 jet fighter.
  • In each of the cases listed, the jobs and investments were announced prior to Trump’s election. What’s more, the companies publicly refuted his involvement.

  • As we speak, we are removing gang members, drug dealers and criminals that threaten our communities and prey on our citizens.
  • Plus, he’s also removing mothers and brain surgery patients.

  • We are also taking strong measures to protect our Nation from Radical Islamic Terrorism. According to data provided by the Department of Justice, the vast majority of individuals convicted for terrorism-related offenses since 9/11 came here from outside of our country.
  • What he didn’t say is that none of them were from the seven countries he included in his Muslim ban. Nor did any of them enter the U.S. illegally. Some came with their parents as children.

  • Ninety-four million Americans are out of the labor force.
  • This is highly misleading. That statistic includes millions of people who are retired, students, stay-at-home parents, or disabled.

  • Right now, American companies are taxed at one of the highest rates anywhere in the world. My economic team is developing historic tax reform that will reduce the tax rate on our companies so they can compete and thrive anywhere and with anyone. At the same time, we will provide massive tax relief for the middle class.
  • This is an often repeated lie from Trump. PolitiFact has debunked it three times. The truth is that U.S. taxes on corporations are in the lower-to-middle of the pack. And his tax reforms are overwhelmingly beneficial to the wealthy.

  • Obamacare is collapsing.
  • The Affordable Care Act is achieving record sign-ups. To the extent that it is having difficulties, it’s due to obstructionism on the part of Republicans.

None of these lies are new. Trump has been been telling them throughout his campaign and into his brief presidency. Despite these documented fallacies, the media has been falling all over itself to congratulate the President on his speech. They seem to think that his having stayed on script and sticking to the TelePrompter is an oratory achievement. But just because he refrained from yelling or threatening to throw people out of the room doesn’t mean he’s finally pivoted to becoming “presidential.”

Unless, that is, you are an anchor or pundit on television news. Below are examples of how easily swayed our media is by obvious attempts to deceive and serve up propaganda:

  • Martha MacCallum, Fox News: We were told this was going to be an inspiring, uplifting speech tonight, and I think he hit the mark.
  • Jake Tapper, CNN: It was a much more subdued President Trump than we’ve seen,. It was a speech in which he clearly was trying to reset in a lot of ways.
  • Dana Bash, CNN: The most presidential of manners that we have heard from Donald Trump to date, period.
  • Brian Williams, MSNBC: Easily the most traditional speech he has given in public life. The most speech-like speech, if you will.
  • Anderson Cooper, CNN: It’s without a doubt one of his best speeches that I’ve ever heard.
  • Chris Wallace, Fox News: Tonight, Trump became President of the United States.
  • Martha Raddatz, ABC: Not only was he more presidential, he was a politician.
  • Van Jones, CNN: He did something tonight that you cannot take away from him — he became president of the United States.

What this tells us is that the media still hasn’t learned anything about the Reign of Trump. Either they are in a worshipful haze, or they are desperate to maintain access (ergo, ratings). Trump’s speech, as usual, contained little of substance. He failed to explain how he would achieve any of his policy proposals. Yet he shoveled piles of predetermined applause lines. The most jarring was his exploitation of the widow of a Navy SEAL killed in Yemen. But Trump didn’t disclose that his negligence was partly responsible for the failed mission that also killed thirty civilians, including ten children.

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

The media need to report the context that allows the American people to fully understand the issues they cover. And until they do they are nearly useless minions of a corrupt administration. It’s rather startling that they so quickly forget how abusive Trump is toward the press. But now that this highly anticipated speech is history, perhaps the press will seek answers to more important matters. Like whether the President conspired with Russia to rig the election. And what other relationships, personal, political or financial, he has with Putin’s dictatorship. Is that too much to hope for?

CNN’s Don Lemon Righteously Shuts Down A Trump Shill – LITERALLY!

This weekend CNN did a segment comparing the costs of Donald Trump’s presidential vacations with Barack Obama’s. The actual numbers are pretty striking. Trump has cost taxpayers about as much in one month as Obama did in an entire year. Which is ironic considering how frequently, and without justification, Trump complained about Obama taking vacations.

Don Lemon

The segment, though, went off the rails when right-wing mouthpiece Paris Dennard chimed in with what seems like a scripted whine. Ignoring the fact that the numbers were all verified and undisputed, Dennard said, “I think this is fake news. This is not a news story.”

Anchor Don Lemon was plainly annoyed by Dennard’s brain-dead mutterings. He asked Dennard if he could define fake news is. He couldn’t. So Lemon proceeded to help him with the definition:

“Fake news is when you put out a story to intentionally deceive someone and you know that it is wrong […] This story that we’re doing right now is not to intentionally deceive anyone. We are simply talking about the cost to keep a president safe.”

After schooling Dennard on the finer points of journalism, Lemon sought to make it perfectly clear that he wasn’t about to sit still for Dennard’s wingnut rhetoric:

“Please stop it with that stupid talking point, that it is a fake news story. If you don’t want to participate in the news stories on this network, then don’t come on and participate. But don’t call them fake because you don’t agree with them. Go on.”

With that, Dennard persisted with his fake news assertions despite the utter absurdity of it and the admonition from the host. Whereupon Lemon, clearly exasperated, chose to end the program. He thanked his guests, wished everyone a great weekend, and said goodnight.

Now that’s how you handle the robo-pundits that are sanctioned by political operations. These people are so rehearsed that they stumble all over themselves if asked to actually provide a coherent analysis. When faced with a demand to drop his script, Dennard just repeated the parts he had memorized. It didn’t matter that it no longer made any sense. Lemon did exactly the right thing. He refused to allow a glassy-eyed Trump sycophant to spew The Donald’s branding. It was beautiful.

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

CNN Commits Journalism – Trump Shill Gets Trolled On Twitter For Whining About It

CNN’s Kate Bolduan did a segment Monday about Donald Trump’s unsupported claim (aka: lie) that thousands of voters were bused from Massachusetts to New Hampshire to vote illegally. She noted that there was no evidence of that other than baseless assertions by administration shills like Stephen Miller. Then she played a video of Miller on ABC directing the media to where they could find the elusive evidence. Miller told George Stephanopoulos that:

“Many, many highly qualified people, like Kris Kobach, the Kansas Secretary of State, have looked deeply into this issue and confirmed it to be true and have put together evidence. And I suggest you invite Kris Kobach onto your show and he can walk you through some of the evidence of voter fraud.”

So that’s exactly what Bolduan did. However, she didn’t get the result that Miller promised. She interviewed Koback and started off by asking him what evidence he has that thousands of people voted illegally. The next seven minutes (video below) was consumed by Kobach dodging the question and failing to provide any shred of the fabled evidence. Each time Bolduan asked for proof of illegal voting, Kobach contorted his answer to address only registration issues. His lone argument was that there were people who were on the registration rolls of both Massachusettes and New Hampshire. But he had no proof that any of them actually voted in both states.

To be clear, there is nothing illegal about being registered in more than one state. It happens frequently when registered voters move to a new state and re-register. Most people will never inform the election authorities of their previous residence that they moved. And so long as they only vote once they have broken no laws. It would be easy to ascertain whether someone voted more than once. Consequently, the absence of more than handful of such incidents attests to its rarity. The allegations of thousands – or even millions, as Trump has claimed – is preposterous and has been widely debunked.

Nevertheless, Kobach persisted in switching the subject to entirely legal registration matters. He struggled to reply when Bolduan pressed him to certify the claims by Miller that fraud had already been proven. After hemming and hawing he would go straight back to the registration red herring. A clearly frustrated Bolduan eventually concluded the interview with an exasperated sigh.

And here’s where it get’s truly absurd. Following his embarrassing performance, Kobach took to Twitter to complain about a graphic that appeared on screen during the interview. It read “Trump Aide Repeats False Claims Of Voter Fraud.” Kobach’s tweet accused CNN of Bias:

First of all, the graphic is simply stating something that is verifiably true. That isn’t bias, it’s journalism. Secondly, the truth is not something that viewers get to “decide.” As Daniel Patrick Moynihan so poignantly observed “Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but they are not entitled to their own facts.” Finally, the graphic isn’t even even referring to Kobach. It is referring to Trump’s aide, Stephen Miller. This should be clear to Kobach since he’s not presently a Trump aide, unless there’s something they’re not telling us. Bolduan herself apprised Kobach of that:

She was being kind, because he was lying also. Kobach’s petulant whining and failure to understand the graphic was pounced on by an amused and outraged Twitter community. Here are a few of the replies that he received to his tweet:

And those are the nice ones. Kobach is just another one of the sycophants that populate Trump’s world. They are chosen for their aversion to facts, indifference toward the trials of ordinary Americans, and the ability to lie with a straight face. He’ll go far in the Era of Trump.

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

Trump Floats Yet Another Crackpot Conspiracy Theory: Bernie Sanders/Fake News Edition

Sunday morning Donald Trump was once again up early playing with his Twitter machine. Despite the best efforts of his handlers, they have failed to wrest his phone away and prevent these embarrassing episodes. The problem is that they are not just embarrassing for Trump, but for America.

Bernie Sanders Donald Trump

The latest tweet-bleat from The Donald concerned an interview on CNN with Sen. Bernie Sanders (video below). The subject was Trump’s National Security Advisor, Gen. Michael Flynn, and his recently disclosed communications with Russia. In particular, Flynn’s having allegedly told Russia not to worry about the sanctions imposed for interfering with U.S. elections. Erin Burnett asked Sanders about Trump’s dubious claim to not know anything about the matter. That led to this amusing exchange:

BURNETT: He says says he doesn’t know anything about it. Hasn’t seen any of the reports. Is that a problem?

SANDERS: Well, I don’t know. Maybe he was watching CNN’s fake news. What do you think. [adding] That was a joke.

BURNETT: I know it was a joke.

Whereupon, the signal was lost and CNN went to a commercial. On the basis of that, Trump contrived a nefarious plot to silence Sanders and any talk of CNN’s “fakery.” He tweeted:

How Trump concluded that Sanders was “cut off for using the term fake news” is a total mystery. As usual, he provided no evidence of his outlandish accusation. In the Trump mind, all that’s necessary is to spout off random thoughts and pretend they are factual. Of course, his delusions are generally easy to refute. In this case, CNN came back from the commercial break and began by apologizing for the technical difficulties and resuming the conversation with the very words that Trump thinks were censored:

BURNETT: Sen. Sanders is back with me, and I want to apologize to our viewers for that technical issue. And Senator, you had just been talking, joking about CNN’s fake news, but there were reports about … go ahead.

If CNN were trying to scrub any discussion about Trump’s juvenile fake news slur, they surely wouldn’t have led with it upon resumption of the interview. So how could Trump have concocted this nonsense? Well, as Brian Stelter reported, Fox & Friends had made the same phony characterization of the interview just half an hour before Trump tweeted it. As happens frequently, Trump was just regurgitating something he saw on Fox News. And we all know how reliable that is.

For the President of the United States to blindly parrot falsehoods he saw on TV sets a new low for the intellectual honesty of the office. But then Trump does that every day. The one silver lining that may emerge is that the attention Trump brings to this interview may cause a few of his supporters to watch the entire segment. Bernie is absolutely on fire and makes an outstanding presentation of Trump’s authoritarian tendencies and hypocrisy. He even defends referring to Trump as delusional and questions his mental health. Watch and enjoy (or shudder).

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

Bill Maher Exposes Trump As A Giant Con: ‘It’s Beyond Politics, It’s About Sanity

Speculation about the mental health of Donald Trump is becoming a trending topic. Of course, many people have noticed his malignant narcissism and stifling paranoia for years. His fierce obsession with ego-driven trivialities seems to supersede the obligations of the job.

Bill Maher

The situation is so serious that bills are being drafted by both parties to provide for routine presidential psychiatric exams. It’s not a bad idea for any president, considering the pressures of the presidency. But with the election of Donald Trump it’s been elevated to a critical necessity.

Thursday night CNN aired a program with Van Jones interviewing Bill Maher (video below). The subject of Trump’s mental stability came up when an audience member asked this question:

“The President’s been in office barely three weeks. Why can’t you guys in the media and Hollywood give him some slack?”

First of all, on the day that President Obama was sworn into office in 2009, the Republican leader in the Senate declared that his top priority was to make him “a one-term president.” Shortly thereafter, Rush Limbaugh announced that he wanted Obama to fail. The hypocrisy of Trump supporters now begging for mercy while Trump is pissing on the Constitution, and stuffing his cabinet with racists and billionaires, is ludicrous.

But let’s get back to Maher’s response. He was justifiable surprised by the questioner’s naivete. He mocked the notion that Trump deserved any slack precisely because of “the things he’s said and done.” Then he explained in detail why Trump’s pretense of being for the “little man” is just “a giant con.”

“What does he do? He gets into office, the coal companies can dump sludge in the river. Because, you know, that’s what the ‘little man’ is aching for. Undoing Dodd-Frank. Because so many of the town halls in Appalachia, people were standing up and saying, ‘Mr. Trump, please get rid of the Volcker Rule. Because if I can’t make certain speculative investments, it’s killing us here!'”

And that’s just for starters. Our billionaire president doesn’t appear to have the slightest comprehension of life for average Americans. His promise to repeal ObamaCare will cause twenty million people to lose their health insurance. The Trump tax plan is weighted heavily in favor of his wealthy pals. Plus, estimates say that it will balloon the deficit by up to ten trillion dollars. He has already reversed a regulation that protected citizens from corrupt financial advisers. His education secretary is opposed to public schools. And he appointed an Environmental Protection Agency director who aspires to eliminate the department.

For these, and many other reasons, Maher made the astute observation that:

“It’s beyond politics, it’s about sanity. It’s about somebody who makes stuff up, who doesn’t read. His information is either anecdotal, or pulled out of his … behind.” […] “Of course we’re worried when the President sees multitudes that don’t exist. As in the illegal voting – three million. That should bother you.”

Indeed, it should bother every American. The President proudly lacks the knowledge required to perform his job. And what he lacks in experience, he makes worse by his determination to invent “alternative facts” that affirm his ignorance. His lying, temperamental outbursts, and vanity make him an existential threat to the welfare of the nation. A recent poll shows that, only three weeks into his term, the nation is split on whether to impeach him. The same poll notes that:

“The Presidency has been so diminished over the last 3 weeks that voters even say Saturday Night Live has more credibility than Trump, 48/43.”

So let’s set aside these preposterous pleadings for Trump to be given a chance. He’s had his chance and blown it on an epic scale. From here on out he must be judged on his actual performance. No wonder he and his staff are so worried.

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