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.

OOPS! Fox News Pushes Starbucks Boycott For Hiring Refugees, Not Veterans – Check Again Fox

Last week Starbucks announced an initiative to hire 10,000 refugees around the world. In a heartfelt post to the Starbucks website, CEO Howard Schultz wrote that the plan was in response to Donald Trump’s attempt to ban immigrants from majority-Muslim countries. “We have all been witness,” he said, “to the confusion, surprise and opposition to the Executive Order President Trump issued.” The statement continued:

“There are more than 65 million citizens of the world recognized as refugees by the United Nations, and we are developing plans to hire 10,000 of them over five years in the 75 countries around the world where Starbucks does business. And we will start this effort here in the U.S. by making the initial focus of our hiring efforts on those individuals who have served with U.S. troops as interpreters and support personnel in the various countries where our military has asked for such support.”

This is a prime example of the sort of social responsibility that all corporations ought to exercise. It demonstrates empathy for people who have suffered greatly and depend on the compassion of others for their survival.

Sadly, there are some who don’t share these values. Immediately following the announcement, conservative groups began organizing boycotts to express their opposition. For the most part they echoed the Trump administration’s fear mongering of terrorists posing as refugees. However, among the justifications was the argument that Starbucks should be providing this assistance to American veterans instead. Good idea!

In fact, it’s such a good idea that Starbucks thought of it three years ago. Also posted on their website was this 2013 announcement that they would hire 10,000 veterans:

“Company to build a pipeline of talent focused on veterans and active duty spouses, including infrastructure to support at least 10,000 hires in five years” […]

“Veterans and military spouses represent one of the most underutilized talent pools in our country and, without the proper career path, will continue to go untapped. Companies like Starbucks recognize this opportunity and are moving swiftly and aggressively to match the jobs they will create in the future with the talent returning to America over the next several years.”

Updates on the program show that Starbucks is ahead of schedule. They currently have 8,800 veterans on the payroll as result of this initiative. But that news hasn’t seeped through to the right-wingers who are determined to punish Starbucks unfairly. Nor has it seeped through to their media of choice: Fox News.

Fox News

Last week Fox News aired a segment that overtly supported the boycott effort. Their story featured graphics that promoted a #BoycottStarbucks hashtag and the message “Refuge Hiring Plan Sparks Online Outrage.” At no time did they point out Starbucks’ program for hiring veterans. And Tuesday morning Fox & Friends continued the Starbucks bashing. They hosted the proprietor of Black Rifle Coffee Company, a wannabe Starbucks competitor. He told the “Curvy Couch” potatoes that he plans to hire 10,000 veterans. That’s an admirable goal, especially for a company that currently has only six employees (according to BuzzFile). He may have overly optimistic growth projections. Or maybe he’s just a con artist looking for a quick buck with Fox’s help.

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

Once again, Fox News never disclosed that Starbucks implemented a veterans hiring program three years ago that’s actually hiring thousands of veterans. It doesn’t fit their anti-refugee agenda and pro-Trump propaganda. Consequently, they left it out of their broadcast, deceiving their viewers and feeding their hatred. These are lengths to which Fox will go to advance their agenda of bigotry and lies. In the process they are actually hurting an American company that’s helping our vets. Nice work, Fox.

Fox News Asks Whether Jesus Was A Refugee – And Gets The Bible HORRIBLY Wrong

The debate over Donald Trump’s offensive Muslim ban has taken some peculiar turns. It’s already resulted in successful lawsuits rejecting his executive order as unconstitutional. And there are heartbreaking cases of heroes being refused entry after fighting alongside American soldiers in Iraq. Even a nominee for an Academy Award will be unable to attend the ceremony due to the restrictions.

Pray for Fox News

Tuesday morning the cast of Fox & Friends took up the volatile issue of refugees (video below). While intending to rebut arguments connecting current events to the life of Jesus, the Fox crew veered wildly off course. The segment led off with the “Curvy Couch” potatoes mocking a tweet by Rev. Al Sharpton:

On the surface, there isn’t anything especially controversial about that. However, to Fox News it was an abomination of the gospel and a personal attack on Trump. Co-host Steve Doocy introduced the segment and engaged in the following exchange with guest Carley Shimkus:

DOOCY: This morning a social media firestorm set off by the Rev. Al Sharpton after he slammed President Trump’s border order by calling Jesus a refugee. […] Well that’s not exactly accurate is it?

SHIMKUS: Well, according to the bible it’s really not. And a lot of people on social media had something to say about that.

Whereupon, Shimkus read two tweets replying to Sharpton. Oddly enough, they are the same two tweets posted in an article on this subject by The Daily Caller. That’s the website founded by Fox News host Tucker Carlson:

It’s notable that Fox News turned to anonymous Twitter users for their biblical analysis. And they appeared to be quite proud of themselves for having debunked Sharpton’s sacrilege. Except for one thing: They couldn’t possibly have been more wrong. A quick glance at the bible’s book of Matthew (2:13-15) reveals that Joseph and Mary fled to Egypt with their infant son Jesus to avoid King Herod’s “massacre of the innocents.” That sounds like they were refugees to me. They only returned after Herod’s death:

(13) And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him. (14) When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt: (15) And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son.

This is a perfect example of the approach to journalism as practiced by Fox News. Why bother consulting religious scholars, the clergy, or even the bible, when you have Twitter for divine guidance? It obviously doesn’t matter to Fox whether the information is correct, something that’s apparent in most of their reporting. And the cherry on top was co-host Brian Kilmeade’s closing shot at Sharpton saying “Who gave him his gift certificate to be a reverend?”

No doubt Kilmeade actually believes there are such certificates. Maybe someone should ask him where he got his gift certificate to host a “news” program. And why is Fox News always making African-Americans provide certificates of authenticity, birth, etc.?

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

Rich And Entitled Fox News Host Is ‘Annoyed’ By The Rich And Entitled In Hollywood

Sunday night’s broadcast of the Golden Globe Awards produced one of the most stirring speeches ever delivered at such an affair. As the Cecil B. DeMille Award winner for lifetime achievement, Meryl Streep was clearly disturbed by the crudeness and vulgarity of President-Elect Donald Trump. She devoted most of her acceptance speech to chastising The Donald for mocking a disabled reporter. And she defended American citizens in the arts who speak out on important issues.

Tucker Carlson Fox News

That speech set up Fox News to launch a full court press against one of their favorite targets: Hollywood. And it began early in the morning on Fox & Friends with special guest, Tucker Carlson. Carlson’s appearance was surely scheduled, at least in part, to promote his brand new primetime program “Tucker Carlson Tonight.” The segment kicked off with clips from Streep’s speech, including her opening line:

“All of us in this room belong to the most vilified segment in American society right now. Think about it. Hollywood, foreigners, and the press.”

The truth of that cannot be denied by anyone with an honest perspective. Conservatives have had an insatiable Hollywood bashing obsession for decades. Likewise, foreigners have been a convenient target to blame for every social problem for which conservatives have no solution. Trump has elevated xenophobia to new heights of hatefulness. And the press, never particularly well-liked, has taken more heat in the past eighteen months than ever.

While Streep’s opening line was true, it was intended as joke and it got the laugh that she expected. However, Carlson took it as some sort of high-minded social philosophy that deserved critical analysis. He told his pals on Fox that:

“Here you have a rich and entitled person describing herself as an outsider, an outcast, a pariah. […] What I was so struck by is she was telling a crowd exactly what they wanted to hear. She was saying things that are totally uncontroversial within the context she was speaking. That’s the least courageous thing you can do.”

First of all, Streep never cast herself as an outcast. That was Carlson’s way of preemptively dismissing everything she had to say. But more troubling is his criticism of Streep for allegedly pandering to her Hollywood audience. He was “annoyed” at her lack of courage for saying exactly what her audience wanted to hear.

Really? That is what Fox News does all day, every day. It is a 24/7 pandering operation for right-wing propaganda. Where is the courage in that? And Carlson himself is the perfect symbol for Fox’s partisan fawning. He just replaced Megyn Kelly, who while affirmatively conservative, has had differences with Trump. Now the entire Fox News primetime lineup is composed of Trump fluffers and friends.

As for the “rich and entitled,” Carlson could be their mascot. Tucker Swanson McNear Carlson was born into wealth in the heartland city of San Francisco, California. He is the son of a television executive who later became ambassador to the Seychelles. Now he splits his time as a TV pundit between New York City and Washington, D.C. When you drain the swamp, what you’ll find is scads of slimy Tucker Carlsons flopping around in the muck.

Carlson is so in touch with mainstream America that he recently confessed that he doesn’t even watch movies. In an interview with TheWrap he said “Who watches movies? Who would? Not me. I wouldn’t cross the street to watch a movie for free.” That comment came following his rebuke of the industry that he thinks is “crumbling.” In fact, the film business is enjoying record profits. Last year box office earnings exceeded 11.3 billion dollars.

Not to be outdone, Trump also commented on Streep’s remarks. True to form, he descended into his typically childish taunting. He tweeted:

So one of the most admired and honored actors of this, or any, generation is “over-rated” in Trump’s feeble mind. [Update: In 2015 Trump was asked about his favorite actors and said “Meryl Streep is excellent; she’s a fine person, too.”] And he’s aghast that she would have an opinion of him without knowing him. But he doesn’t hesitate to express his utterly ignorant opinion of her. Of course, he is suggesting that nobody, not any citizen, has a legitimate right to criticize him without having some kind of personal relationship. That’s a bastardization of democracy. For comparison, here is what Obama’s press secretary, Josh Earnest had to say about Streep’s speech:

“Meryl Streep delivered a thoughtful, carefully considered message. It seemed to me to be a fairly straightforward exercise of her First Amendment rights as a citizen of the United States.”

That’s the statement of a statesman. It’s also precisely the opposite of the attitude that Carlson projects. To him the only people who are permitted to hold and share opinions are those with whom he agrees. Ill-informed Tea Party crackpots can say whatever they want about President Obama. And celebrities like Clint Eastwood and Ted Nugent are considered virtual Rhodes Scholars. But artists who speak their minds outside of the right-wing echo chamber are condemned for their impudence. Worst of all, wealthy, trust-fund babies like Carlson get primetime shows on Fox News where they lambaste the rich and entitled.

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

Fox News Retracts Their Dangerously False Food Stamp Story – And Still Gets It Wrong

On Tuesday Fox News broadcast an episode of their “Entitlement Nation” series that made some startling claims about the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (aka food stamps). What was not startling was that they got it all wrong (as reported here on News Corpse). Fox & Friends co-host, Abby Huntsman, asserted that “$70 million of taxpayer money was wasted on food stamp fraud.” Then she asked “Is it time to end the program altogether?” Because eliminating a program that keeps millions of kids and seniors from starving is preferable to looking for ways to reduce a minuscule amount of alleged fraud.

Fox News

Now the U.S. Department of Agriculture has weighed in to chastise Fox for their “mistakes.” They wrote to the network asking them “to correct a report from Tuesday morning’s edition of ‘Fox & Friends’ alleging new heights for food-stamp fraud in the United States.” They stated that the agency had not issued any data for 2016 and that they didn’t know where Fox was getting their info. Except to say that “We saw that there was a story on Breitbart.”

So Huntsman aired a retraction of her dangerously false food stamp story Friday, saying that the data she cited was incorrect. However, she went on to assert another falsehood saying that the “correct” number for food stamp fraud was $853 million for the three years from 2009 to 2011. In fact, that number refers to any errors (i.e. under/over payments), not just fraud. And it’s still an uncommonly low error rate. What’s more, Fox removed the original story from their website, leaving only a correction but no indication of what they corrected. That is not how ethical journalists operate.

So now that Fox has apologized for reporting false information, will they also retract their suggestion that the SNAP program be eliminated? Not likely. Fox News and the Republican Party have opposed virtually every social welfare program, including Social Security and Medicare. And they are currently obsessed with repealing ObamaCare. They are devoted to making life more difficult for people who are already undergoing hardship. While simultaneously they strive to make life easier for the wealthy by reducing taxes and regulations that benefit the population at large. So merry Christmas and happy new year from Fox News.

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

Merry WTF? Fox News Asks ‘Is It Time To End The Food Stamp Program?’

[Note (12/30/2016): See the update to this story and Fox’s correction here.]

Peace on Earth, goodwill toward men. That’s the spirit of Christmas and the crass marketing slogan so fiercely defended by the Christmas Warriors at Fox News. Which makes the Fox & Friends segment Tuesday morning all the more shocking for its cruel indifference to human suffering.

Fox News

Co-host Abby Huntsman introduced the segment as part their recurring “Entitlement Nation” series. These are generally excuses to attack the less fortunate among our American family. Past episodes have explored such nonsense as ObamaPhones and the lazy moochers on welfare with their extravagant microwave ovens.

Tuesday’s cheery holiday discussion was about whether SNAP (Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, aka food stamps) ought to be discontinued. Because what’s more Christmasy than depriving poor families of lavish indulgences like food? To that end Huntsman raised the issue with her guests, Republican Joe Borelli and Democrat Jehmu Greene. And she framed the “fair and balanced” debate saying:

“Food stamp fraud is at an all-time high […] This year it is estimated that $70 million of taxpayer money was wasted on food stamp fraud. Is it time to end the program altogether?”

Good question, Ms. Scrooge. Don’t bother trying to reduce the alleged waste, just eliminate critical funding for food that keeps working families from starving. Not surprisingly, her Republican guest answered the question in the affirmative:

Borelli: “The Republican Party can’t be either in perception or in practice as the party that is seen as throwing people to the curb and cutting off benefits when they really need it. That said said, this program, the SNAP program, the reincarnation of the food stamp program, has been rife with problems since almost its inception.”

So Borelli’s position is that the GOP must avoid looking insensitive, while still being insensitive. It’s an admittedly tricky political maneuver. But one that Republicans have many decades of experience with. The Democrat actually offered some substance in her rebuttal:

Greene: “We certainly have to have this conversation by looking at the facts. And the facts are that 45 percent of the recipients of SNAP programs are under the age of eighteen. Nine percent of them are over the age of sixty. This is a program that keeps young people and elderly people out of poverty.

Greene also pointed out that the SNAP program helps the economy. That’s because for every five dollars that’s spent, nine dollars goes right back into the local economy. Meanwhile, Borelli incorrectly said that one percent of the spending on SNAP was lost to fraud. It’s actually only one-tenth of one percent (Republicans don’t do math). That’s an uncommonly low rate of loss for any program or even for commercial businesses.

Borelli went on to complain that the cost of the program doubled in the past eight years. What he didn’t say is that the costs went up because more people needed assistance due to the Bush Recession. Also, inflation has required the benefits to increase. If the minimum wage increased at the same rate there would be far fewer families who need this to supplement their income. But Republicans oppose that as well.

The SNAP program has proven to be an essential benefit that keeps children, seniors, and other low-income Americans from going hungry. It helps the economy, and is effective and cost efficient. In fact, the overall cost of the program is falling as the economy improves. The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities reports that:

“In fiscal year 2015, the federal government spent about $75 billion on SNAP. About 93 percent went directly to benefits that households used to purchase food. About 6 percent went to state administrative costs.”

Given the success of the program, it makes no sense to consider discontinuing it. But to suggest doing so during the Christmas holiday is downright cold-hearted. Fox News and the Republican Party have opposed virtually every social welfare program, including Social Security and Medicare. They are currently obsessed with repealing ObamaCare and cancelling the health insurance of 20 million people. But you might think they would withhold their most callous tendencies until after the Season of Joy. Sadly, you would be wrong.

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

Fox News FINALLY Apologizes For Lying About A Man And His 90 Year Old Grandmother

A month ago Fox News did a story about a protester at a Trump rally. Austyn Crites approached the stage with a sign saying “Republicans Against Trump.” A commotion in the crowd caused the Secret Service to hustle a cowering Trump off stage. There were varying accounts of what transpired, and some reports said that a Trump supporter yelled “Gun!” Crites was quickly taken into custody and escorted out of the rally.

Fox News Steve Doocy

As it turns out, there was no gun. Crites was not in any way threatening and was not arrested. The incident was an epic over-reaction that evolved into a mythical fable of the fake danger bedeviling The Donald. So naturally Fox News fabricated a fictional account of the event that featured Kellyanne Conway, who labeled Crites a Democratic plant. She also laughably implied on CNN that this innocent, lawful protest was an assassination attempt. Meanwhile, back at Fox & Friends, Brian Kilmeade falsely accused Crites of having committed voter fraud by casting a ballot for Clinton in the name of his grandmother, who Kilmeade said had died in 2002.

Kilmeade: “Democrats would like for you to believe that voter fraud does not exist. Better chance of getting hit by lightening, they always say. But this morning yet another reminder from the guy who interrupted Donald Trump’s rally on Saturday who many thought had a gun. […] He claims he was a Republican, but it turns out he’s a huge Hillary supporter. And his grandmother has been using this address to vote absentee for years. But she’s been dead since 2002. Although I miss her, I don’t think she should be voting.”

You’ll never guess what happened next. An actual journalist from the Guardian contacted Crites’ grandmother who stubbornly insisted that she was alive and well. She’s probably a Democrat who’s lying about being alive to smear Trump. Now virtually everything Fox News reported has been proven to be blatantly false. And what does Fox do about it? They wait for month after the truth was well known and then have Steve Doocy issue a correction. By this time, of course, no one remembers what he’s talking about. So he gets away with dismissing the lies as “exagerrated.”

That’s the Fox News brand of “journalism.” Notoriously unprofessional and entirely devoid of ethics. They still haven’t bothered to interview Crites or provide him him with an opportunity clear his name. The never reached out to his grandmother whose friends and family might have been distressed to hear of her death. However, just airing an apology is a big step for Fox News, so we probably should be grateful.

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

TRUMP: Russia’s Hacking Was ‘A BIG PROBLEM’ – Before They Were Helping His Campaign

The appalling revelations about Russia’s hacking during the presidential election continue to taint its outcome. Anyone who thinks our democracy is credible under these circumstances is willfully blind. And no one is more dismissive of the truth in this regard than President-Elect Donald Trump.

Trump/Putin

Seventeen intelligence agencies, including the CIA and the FBI, agree that Russia engaged in cyber attacks aimed at hurting Hillary Clinton and helping Trump. Nevertheless, Trump persists in defending his BFF, Vladimir Putin, and refusing to accept Russia’s obvious guilt. When Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday asked him about Russia’s hacking he responded that “It’s ridiculous. It’s just another excuse. I don’t believe it.” As recently as last week he tweeted:

In that comment he not only rejected Russia’s criminal complicity, but lied about the White House response. The Obama administration revealed the facts in October and it was covered prominently in the media. Trump’s position that Russia was not responsible for the hacking remained as strong as ever. Well, maybe not ever. Because in 2014 he appeared on his regular segment on Fox News, “Monday’s with Trump,” along with the Fox & Friends gang. He had a very different opinion then. When asked about hacking by China, Trump made it clear that China was not the only culprit:

“It’s disgraceful what’s going on with China generally. No, I think [FBI Director James Comey] is 100% right, it’s a big problem, and we have that problem also with Russia … doing the same thing.” […]

“This is a different world today. You say things on the Internet, you say things over a computer and people are going to find out what you’re saying it’s very dangerous and very bad in many ways.”

So two years ago Trump considered Russia’s hacking to be a big problem. Today he thinks the notion is ridiculous. What’s changed?

Well, for one thing, Trump wasn’t running for president in 2014 and didn’t have any motivation for distorting the truth. More to the point though, the allegations of Russia’s hacking two years ago was related to commerce and had an adverse personal impact on him. However, this year their hacking was blatantly advantageous to him and damaging to Clinton. If the harm done by the hacking was appropriately considered, the election results would have to be regarded as suspect and set aside pending an investigation. That would nullify, at least temporarily, Trump’s “victory.”

It is clearly in Trump’s favor, therefore, to vindicate Russia and oppose any further inquiry. Consequently, his position now is to waive off the allegations and absolve Russia of any guilt. That’s in stark contrast to his prior position just two years ago. And, as is so often the case with Trump, he will reshape his position to whatever is in his best interest at the time. That’s how he gets away with calls for border walls during the campaign, but settles for fences now. Or promising to repeal ObamaCare, but now claiming to want to preserve its most prominent features. Or bitterly insulting his rivals as dummies, but now embracing and even praising them as brilliant. Even President Obama, who he said was “the worst president in history,” is now his trusted friend and advisor.

That’s what we call a hypocrite, a con-man, a liar. There is literally nothing Trump says that you can take at face value. You always have to look for how it benefits him, and expect to find some contradictions from the past. This is emerging as a hallmark of his presidency and it hasn’t even officially begun yet. Sad.

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

Fox News PANICS Over New Voter Fraud Plot They TOTALLY Made Up

Seeking to prop up Donald Trump’s frantic and baseless cries of a “rigged” election, Fox News has their fiction writers working overtime. This morning on Fox & Friends the “Curvy Couch” potatoes invited Betsy McCaughey to expound on a new theory. McCaughey is best known for having coined the term “death panels” which Sarah Palin made famous. It became PolitiFact’s Lie of the Year for 2009.

Fox News

McCaughey’s latest fiction is the charge that perennial wingnut boogieman, George Soros, is clandestinely maneuvering to steal the election from Trump. The plot alleges that voting machines manufactured by a company he controls are being used across the country. Fox host Steve Doocy lays out the conspiracy in a typically hysterical fashion (video below):

Doocy: “Donald Trump has made the rigged system a centerpiece in his campaign. And now there are new concerns after a report showing that 16 U.S. states, 16 of them, have used voting machines tied to leftist billionaire George Soros in the past […] tied directly to George Soros and his personal quest for open borders.”

McCaughey: “That’s right. This really bears investigating. Because Smartmatic, this UK company, one of the top guns there, Lord Mallach-Brown, is very involved with George Soros’ left-wing globalist enterprises, many of which are trying to tilt elections in Europe and in the United States.”

Sounds scary, doesn’t it? And it would be except for the fact that none of it is true. Soros has no financial involvement with Smartmatic whatsoever, and never has. The actual owner sits on the board of Soros’ Open Society Foundation along with dozens of other board members. That hardly equates to a direct connection to the voting machine manufacturer. But that didn’t stop distraught Trump supporters from launching a petition on the White House website demanding that Congress “meet in emergency session about removing George Soros owned voting machines.” At the time of this writing it had 89,000 signatures, on its way to a goal of 100,000.

However, that’s not even the most ridiculous part of this lame attempt at scandal mongering. The Smartmatic machines in question are not being used in the United States at all. Not a single one will be used in any state in the 2016 election. So Fox News, and nearly 90,000 crackpot conservatives, are incensed and determined to rid America of something that doesn’t exist.

Not satisfied with making unhinged allegations about voting, Mcaughey continued her rant to assert that mentally ill and homeless people are being paid to cause violence at Trump events. She doesn’t bother to provide any proof of that, and Doocy doesn’t ask for any. She further claims that:

“There is already an airtight case against Soros trying to tilt this election, steal this election, using his money. He’s very close to Hillary Clinton. He is pouring millions of dollars into third party organizations like the Super PAC, Priorities USA.”

To be clear, McCaughey is now criticizing the Super PACs that were set loose by the Supreme Court’s Citizen’s United decision. Welcome to the progressive movement, Betsy. Liberals have been fighting that decision for years. But don’t expect her to have the same sense of outrage over the Koch brothers or the many other financiers of right-wing PACs. For the record, Soros’ own son started a Super Pac to end Super PACs.

What we can expect is for Fox News to get ever more absurd with far-fetched fairy tales in the few remaining days of this campaign. They are desperate and morose and ready to fling themselves off of rooftops. So maybe they can be forgiven for exhibiting signs of acute dementia.

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

Right-Wingers Freak Out Over Claim That Obama is ‘Banning’ Fox News

Oh Noes! The Obamabots are at it again. Remember when they confiscated all of our guns, set up concentration camps, and handed Alabama over to ISIS? Well now they have a new plot to outlaw free speech and suppress the patriots at Fox News.

Fox News

The conservative InterTubes are afire with paranoid panic over remarks by a member of the Federal Election Commission. Democratic commissioner Ellen Weintraub wrote a memorandum to her colleagues with the subject “Revised Proposal to Launch Rulemaking to Ensure that U.S. Political Spending is Free from Foreign Influence.” To anyone not suffering from Obama Derangement Syndrome, this would appear to be responsible election oversight. Which is the mission of the FEC. However, to hysterical right-wingers this is an assault on free speech. The offending paragraph from the memo simply asks:

“Given the ban on direct or indirect foreign national spending in U.S. elections. should any limits be imposed on corporate spending based on the percentage of the corporation’s foreign ownership?”

It is already illegal for foreign nationals and corporations to donate to U.S. candidates and political referendums. The reasons are obvious. Nobody wants hostile nations to be able to interfere with American elections. Russia or China should not have the ability to plant their operatives in our Congress. The rulemaking proposal by Weintraub is only meant to close any loopholes and to secure the integrity of our political system. The memo states exactly that:

“The FEC needs to address the real threat that foreign individuals, corporations, or governments may seek to manipulate our elections through domestic corporations they own or control. Given everything we have learned this year. it blinks reality to suggest that that there is no risk of foreign nationals taking advantage of current loopholes to intercede invisibly in American elections. This is a risk no member of the Federal Election Commission should be willing to tolerate.”

This could not be more clear cut. Weintraub is plainly seeking to prevent our enemies from corrupting our elections. So leave it to Fox News to create a controversy where none would otherwise exist. To that end, the hosts of Fox & Friends barreled headlong into the phony squabble with Brian Kilmeade introducing senior correspondent Ed Henry:

Kilmeade: Oh, in case we didn’t mention it, Fox News could be banned from covering politics. That is if Democrats on the Federal Election Committee (sic) get their way.
Henry: Democrats on the Federal Election Commission targeting Fox and other media companies who have even a tiny bit of foreign ownership, saying they should not be allowed to engage in any ‘electioneering communication.’ This could be used to muzzle free speech and it was offered by a Democratic commissioner on the FEC, Ellen Weintraub.

The segment went on to assert that the commission was enacting a regulation that “could ban Fox and others from endorsing or covering” politics. Although there is nothing in the memo that even alludes to that. In fact, the memo never even mentions the media. What’s more, it isn’t enacting anything, it is merely opening a dialog. And the dialog is wholly focused on corporations that are owned by foreign nationals or governments. The actions addressed are strictly identified as electioneering, not reporting, endorsing, or any other function of journalism. Weintrab even reiterated that in an official statement:

Did that ease the irrational fears of the conservative outrage machine? Of course not. On the Internet there were frantic tweets from the usual fringy suspects. In addition, the Media Research Center (the ultra-right watchdog group and home of Newsbusters) published an article with a headline that shrieked “FEC Attempting to Kill Fox News, WSJ, NY Post Political Coverage.” Their lede was a false and feverish declaration that “The propaganda machine inside the federal government is in full swing to squelch any conservatives or dissenting views.”

As is apparent from the original memo and the appended affirmation, none of that is true. It’s just another fit of hysteria from right-wing conspiracy kooks. These are the same folks who thought that military exercises in Texas were a prelude to invasion. They worried that Obama was deliberately infecting America with Ebola. Before long these fruitcakes will be clamoring for Hillary Clinton’s impeachment due to her covert lizard identity. In the meantime, Fox & Friends’ Ainsley Earhardt is showing her grit by standing up to the infidels:

“If they want the government to control the media then they can move to North Korea, or Russia, or China. It’s not happening here. No one’s telling us what we can and can’t say.”

Well, no one except for the Fox News executives and the Republican National Committee. It is no accident that there is a uniformity of opinion on Fox. They are presently serving as the Trump PR office. And this latest imaginary atrocity will just be another of their excuses after they lose in November.

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

UPDATE: The real threat to freedom of the press is Donald Trump:

“Mr. Trump, especially given the positions he’s staked out … would represent a really significant threat to the tradition of an independent free press in the United States,” says David Barstow of The New York Times.

“I think Donald Trump represents a clear and present danger to the liberties of the people, to the idea of the First Amendment,” agrees David Cay Johnston, now a columnist for The Daily Beast.