Often portrayed as the intellectual voice of contemporary conservatism, Fox News pundit Charles Krauthammer seems more like a doddering old coot with a touch of dementia. How else to explain the whimpering challenge he issued during an interview on Hugh Hewitt’s radio show on Tuesday. It was also picked up for a segment today on Fox News.
Krauthammer: When people talk about Hillary being a superb secretary of state, I just ask one question. Name me one thing, just one, not three, give me one thing she achieved in her four years as secretary of state. I have yet to hear an answer. … She traveled a lot. So did Marco Polo. And you want him to be president?
Obviously the rightist audience listening to Hewitt’s program wouldn’t want Marco Polo because he was an illegal immigrant pretty much everywhere he went. But as to the substance of Krauthammer’s inquiry, you would have to wonder who he was asking. Most likely it was other wingnut enemies of Hillary Clinton who wouldn’t give her credit even if they could cite something positive.
It would not be difficult, though, for Krauthammer to get an answer to his question if he really wanted one. Or maybe The Google is just too confusing to him. Here is, not one, but eight achievements for which Clinton can take at least partial credit (h/t The Week):
1. The liberation of Libya
Clinton was among a group of administration officials urging Obama in 2011 to help Libyan rebels overthrow longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi, over objections from Defense Secretary Roberts Gates and others.
2. The opening-up of Myanmar
In 2012, Clinton became the first secretary of state in 50 years to make an official visit to Myanmar, part of the Obama administration’s efforts to reward the ruling military junta for taking concrete steps toward a freer society.
3. Playing peacemaker in the Middle East
In late 2012, Clinton brought all her diplomatic resources to bear during a bloody outbreak of violence between Israel and Arab militants in the Gaza Strip, performing a whirlwind tour of the region that many credited with helping prevent an all-out war.
4. Freeing a Chinese dissident
Clinton’s May 2012 visit to China, ostensibly about mutual economic and security concerns, was ensnared in a full-blown diplomatic emergency, after human-rights dissident Chen Guangcheng escaped house arrest and took refuge at the U.S. Embassy.
5. Killing Osama bin Laden
Clinton was not intimately involved in the clandestine operation to kill Osama bin Laden in 2011, but she will be indelibly linked to the moment, thanks to a photograph showing her real-time response to the operation in the White House Situation Room.
6. Tightening sanctions on Iran
Clinton announced new sanctions on Iran with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, played an important role in the U.S.’s efforts to win international support to isolate Iran economically. The sanctions have been the most severe Iran has ever dealt with.
7. Isolating Syria’s Assad
Clinton condemned atrocities committed by the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and played a central role in the administration’s efforts to corral international support against the regime.
8. Fighting for women’s rights
One of Clinton’s main initiatives as secretary of state was to champion the cause of gender equality, one of the hallmarks of her political career that stretches back to her days as First Lady.
Fox News, of course, isn’t interested in having an honest discourse on this subject. The truth is that Krauthammer never expected an answer to his disingenuous inquiry. Just floating the question raises the doubts for which he is aiming. He knows that most people can’t extemporaneously recite the accomplishments of any Secretary of State, or most other government officials.
In all likelihood Krauthammer himself could not cite any of Condoleezza Rice’s accomplishments when she headed the State Department. And he would certainly have forgotten the six times American embassies were attacked on her watch. With the frothing intensity that Fox has attacked Clinton over the tragedy in Benghazi, just imagine how much more severe their rage would be if Clinton had six Benghazis like Rice did.
With no new scandal bait emerging over the weekend for Fox News to exploit, they may consider this a slow news day. But in the 24/7 world of cable news the show must go on. Consequently, the editorial team over at Fox was forced to scrape up some chum for their ravenously disgruntled audience. And this is what they came up with:
The Clinton Suck-Up
There’s a new book contains flattering remarks about Hillary Clinton by Gen. David Petraeus. He says that “she’d make a tremendous president,” and sites as an example of her qualifications a reason that is certain to rattle your average Foxie:
Petreaus: “Like a lot of great leaders, her most impressive qualities were most visible during tough times. In the wake of the Benghazi attacks, for example, she was extraordinarily resolute, determined, and controlled.”
Uh oh. A respected general who was revered by the right, and even solicited by Fox News CEO Roger Ailes to run for president in 2012, has high praise for Clinton and her handling of Fox’s favorite anti-Clinton cudgel, Benghazi. Fox’s response was to rush John Bolton into the studio for his reaction. Bolton seemed a bit confused as he struggled to find the meaning of this development. He eventually settled for claiming that Petraeus must have made a mistake or that he was sucking up to Clinton. That was about the best they could on short notice as they sought to walk the fine line between their reverence for Petraeus and their hatred for Clinton.
Trapped In ObamaCare
If Clinton and Benghazi are Fox’s favorite punching bags, ObamaCare is a close second. They have spent countless hours trying to sabotage the program and frighten their viewers from participating in it. This morning they brought in Fox Business anchor Melissa Francis to discuss what they called an “ObamaCare Coverage Gap.” In reality what they were describing were people whose income fell below the threshold to qualify for ObamaCare subsidies.
Originally these people were supposed to become eligible for Medicaid, but last year the Supreme Court issued a ruling that made that provision voluntary in each state. It is in mostly Republican controlled states where they declined to take advantage of the billions of federal dollars available to expand their Medicaid programs. As a result, the low income residents of those states have been left without any coverage at all. So the coverage gap that Fox attributes to ObamaCare is actually the fault of GOP governors and legislatures who were more interested in scoring a political blow than they were in the well being of their citizens. For some reason Fox left that detail out of their report.
The Olympic Terrorist Bombing
On Fox News Sunday this weekend, the Chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, Mike McCaul (R-TX), discussed his concerns about terrorism at the Sochi Olympics and said that “There’s a high degree of probability that something will detonate, something will go off.” This is a concern that has been articulated by many people, especially after a couple of actual terrorist bombings in southern Russia. But few officials have gone so far as to say that it is “probable.”[For the record, the last terrorist bombing that occurred during the Olympics was in the United States at the games held in Atlanta. The bomber was a right-wing extremist upset by socialism and abortion. Before being caught he bombed a couple of family planning clinics.]
Which brings us to the appearance this morning by Fox contributor Ralph Peters. For those who are unfamiliar with him, he has a long record of vile commentary that includes advocating torture and accusing President Obama of seeking “common ground” with Al Qaeda. Asked to respond to McCaul’s prediction, Peters went on a bender of his own. After agreeing that the risk in Sochi is real, Peters offered some praise for how the Russians handle these sort of affairs.
Peters: “Sometimes a heavy hand and brutality works. [The Russians] don’t do stop-and-frisk, they do stop-and-frisk and beat the hell out of you. And you know what? It’s brutal, it’s ugly, and sometimes it works.”
Obviously Peters approves of the exercise of brutality. And this is not the first time he has said so. He believes that American soldiers should use the same tactics that are used against them by enemy forces and terrorists. In his view there is no place for preserving the values and humane principles that most Americans revere. And by repeatedly inviting Peters onto their network, Fox News is just as bad.
That’s how the morning went at Fox News. It was fairly typical and filled with the sort of lies and animus that is characteristic of the network. No doubt they will escalate their hostile rhetoric as the day proceeds. The morning crew is setting a pretty high bar for the prime timers, O’Reilly and Kelly and Hannity, to clear later today.
After what was described as an “exhaustive investigation” the New York Times has published a report that thoroughly debunks right-wing accounts of attacks on the United States mission in Benghazi on September 11, 2012. The story concludes that there was no direct Al Qaeda involvement and that many of the participants in the attack were motivated by an anti-Islam film, an explanation that Republicans and conservative media had dismissed.
The months following the attack led to a relentless campaign by Fox News and others to promulgate their Benghazi Hoax theory of events, but they were never able to supply the evidence to support their wild accusations against President Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, UN Ambassador Susan Rice, and other administration targets of their politically inspired wrath.
Months of investigation by The New York Times, centered on extensive interviews with Libyans in Benghazi who had direct knowledge of the attack there and its context, turned up no evidence that Al Qaeda or other international terrorist groups had any role in the assault. The attack was led, instead, by fighters who had benefited directly from NATO’s extensive air power and logistics support during the uprising against Colonel Qaddafi. And contrary to claims by some members of Congress, it was fueled in large part by anger at an American-made video denigrating Islam.
The violence, though, also had spontaneous elements. Anger at the video motivated the initial attack. Dozens of people joined in, some of them provoked by the video and others responding to fast-spreading false rumors that guards inside the American compound had shot Libyan protesters. Looters and arsonists, without any sign of a plan, were the ones who ravaged the compound after the initial attack, according to more than a dozen Libyan witnesses as well as many American officials who have viewed the footage from security cameras.
[O]n Sept. 8, a popular Islamist preacher lit the fuse by screening a clip of the video on the ultraconservative Egyptian satellite channel El Nas. American diplomats in Cairo raised the alarm in Washington about a growing backlash, including calls for a protest outside their embassy.
There is no doubt that anger over the video motivated many attackers. A Libyan journalist working for The New York Times was blocked from entering by the sentries outside, and he learned of the film from the fighters who stopped him. Other Libyan witnesses, too, said they received lectures from the attackers about the evil of the film and the virtue of defending the prophet.
Republican arguments appear to conflate purely local extremist organizations like Ansar al-Shariah with Al Qaeda’s international terrorist network.
The leaders of Ansar al-Shariah…lauded the assault as a just response to the video.
Not surprisingly, Fox News reacted swiftly to the New York Times reporting to defend their vested self-interest in advancing some sort of conspiracy on the part of members of the Obama administration. First to take Fox’s fire was Hillary Clinton. On Fox News Sunday, host Chris Wallace asked GOP Rep. Mike Rogers a particularly loaded question whose premise was not supported by any evidence.
Wallace: Do you think there was a political motivation for this Times report? Some people have suggested that, well, this is trying to clear the deck for Hillary Clinton in 2016. Rogers: (saying that he “finds the timing odd”) I don’t know but I find it interesting that there was this rollout of stories.
Wallace never identified who the people were who suggested that the Times was clearing the deck for Hillary. He simply used the old “some people” contrivance to disguise the fact that it was Wallace himself who making the ludicrous suggestion.
Fox’s Catherine Herridge also did a report about the Times story that dismissed much of its findings, but offered no substantive rebuttal to the facts as they were laid out by the Times. In addition, she brought along a uniquely preposterous angle that did little to advance the discourse:
“Fox News was able to review the findings of an independent data mining firm which assessed the social media traffic in Benghazi in the 24 hours leading up to the attack and the 24 hours after the attack and, significantly, the first reference to this anti-Islam video was in the day following. It was in a retweet of a Russia Today story. So once again, this does not comport with the idea that this was in response to the anti-Islam video.”
This is a demonstration of Fox’s desperation to belittle the Times’ story. Trying to tie references to Twitter mentions of the event with affirmations of its execution is absurd in the extreme. Especially when there were verifiable accounts of information about the film being broadcast on local Libyan television, and many witnesses testified of its impact as an inspiration for the violence.
Stalwart proponents of the Benghazi Hoax also appeared on TV this weekend to defend their rapidly dissolving positions. They included GOP super-hawk Peter King and the mastermind of a flurry of fake scandals, Darrell Issa, who said on Meet the Press that “We have seen no evidence that the video was widely seen in Benghazi, a very isolated area, or that it was a leading cause.” If Issa hasn’t seen any evidence, he obviously hasn’t been paying attention. Or more likely, he is deliberately diverting his attention to the dishonest horror stories he prefers to peddle.
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Fox News has behaved true to form in the wake of the revelations published by the Times. They circle their wagons and defend their phony and sensationalist version of what they laughably call “news.” They fail to address any of the specific assertions in the story and retreat to friendly interviews with conservative characters who will plod forward with their false narratives. The last thing Fox wants is for people to be exposed to actual journalism that presents information in a coherent and factual manner. That would destroy the whole Fox business model if it got out of hand.
Addendum: You didn’t think that Fox Nation was going to be left out of this hoax-mongering, did you? They jumped in with two stories about the New York Times article, and both were typically dripping with lies and partisan distortions, as they have been known to do (see abundant proof in the acclaimed ebook Fox Nation vs. Reality).
For the past couple of weeks there has been a flurry of fretful reporting about a threat by Republican National Committee chair Reince Priebus to ban CNN and MSNBC from the GOP primary debate schedule. Priebus is disturbed by currently non-existent projects about Hillary Clinton that he is certain will characterize her favorably.
Today Priebus made good on his threat by shepherding a resolution though the RNC’s annual meeting that declares that they “will neither partner with these networks in the 2016 presidential primary debates nor sanction any primary debates they sponsor.”
Fun Fact: How many GOP primary debates did the RNC sponsor in 2012? Answer: Zero
There were twenty debates held and not a single one was sponsored by the RNC. However, every debate on Fox News was sponsored by a state Republican Party affiliate. Also notable is that MSNBC held a debate co-sponsored by the Reagan Library, and CNN held debates co-sponsored by Tea Party Express, the Heritage Foundation, and the American Enterprise Institute.
There is, however, a small problem with the Priebus declaration. The RNC has no power whatsoever to prohibit any debate by an network. Sure, they can pass resolutions that make grandiose claims to authority that they don’t have, but reality trumps their hubris. The truth is that any network can announce its intention to produce a debate. They can invite candidates to participate. The candidates are free to accept or reject any offer as they see fit. Chances are, the second and third tier candidates will accept virtually any opportunity to promote themselves on national television. Subsequently, the frontrunners will be reluctant to let their competitors have the stage to themselves. So the debates will go on with a full cast of characters.
Priebus’ threat, therefore, is an impotent cry for attention. He is not empowered to force his will on the people who are vying to be the next leader of the free world. In a best case scenario he may be able to influence the number of debates, which is a goal he has previously articulated. After all, it is fairly obvious that the more Republican candidates are exposed to the American people, the more they will embarrass themselves, and the more votes they will lose. The GOP has a distinct interest in limiting their exposure, and that is what Priebus is aiming for.
The hypocrisy of Priebus’ resolution is apparent in the fact that he is only nixing CNN and MSNBC, even though there have been reports that Fox may be producing the NBC project. Priebus cannot extend his toothless ban to Fox or there would be no cable news networks available to host a GOP debate. But there is no reasonable explanation for why Fox would be given a pass (other than their role as the GOP PR division).
Fun Fact: What do you get when you remove the vowels from Reince Priebus’ name? Answer: RNC PR BS
The full text of the resolution cites campaign donations by the head of NBC’s entertainment division to Hillary Clinton, but the head of Fox News’ parent corporation has done likewise. Also, the News Corp political PAC, News America Holdings, has given more to Democrats than Republicans in each of the last four election cycles. So if producing Clinton documentaries and donating to her campaign warrant prohibition as debate hosts, then Fox clearly qualifies.
Finally, there have been recent calls for the RNC to recruit right-wing loyalists as moderators for their debates. The names mentioned most frequently include Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Mark Levin. In response, Levin has said that he is ready and willing, despite the fact that he has previously said that he will do whatever he can to prevent Chris Christie from becoming the GOP nominee. As for Limbaugh, he told his radio dittoheads that he is “too famous” and would “overshadow” the candidates. That’s a telling remark in itself, as it demonstrates just how diminutive is the stature of the GOP field. Perhaps the GOP should nominate Limbaugh.
This tussle could not be better for Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party. If the RNC is successful in limiting the number of their debates it will have effectively cut off millions of Americans from learning about their candidates (although, as noted above, that might a good thing for the GOP). But even worse is the prospect of debates led by staunchly conservative radio talk show hosts. Priebus and company think that friendly moderators will help avoid the antagonistic questioning that he presumes would occur on other networks. But to the extent that that is true, it will also result in the candidates being woefully unprepared for the full-contact combat they will eventually encounter in the general election. What’s more, the rightist Taliban, as represented by Limbaugh et al, will be more likely to force candidates to stake out extreme positions which they will be unable to “Etch-a-Sketch” away after the primaries. The wingnut media are notoriously committed to the sort of ideological purity that voters find repugnant.
So if the RNC wants to proceed with this self-defeating initiative, they will have the full support and cooperation of their pals at the DNC. Nothing would please Democrats more than Republicans digging themselves ever deeper holes of extremism. The outrageous statements and gaffes that occur at the “official” RNC events would still be broadcast on the other networks afterwards. So Priebus’ efforts to limit the damage would be futile, and even counterproductive. As would his admonition that disobedience “may include severe penalties for candidates that participate in unsanctioned debates.” That’s right – Priebus plans on giving the reprobates a good spanking. Wouldn’t that look great on a candidates permanent record?
Earlier this week, Republican Party chairman Reince Priebus went apoplectic over the announcement that NBC Entertainment was developing a miniseries based on Hillary Clinton’s post-White House life. With no script, or even a firm decision to go forward, the GOP, and their PR division, Fox News, lashed out at the network for even considering such a thing. Priebus threatened NBC and CNN (who are considering their own Clinton documentary) calling it “appalling” that they “have taken it upon themselves to be Hillary Clinton’s campaign operatives.” He continued…
“If they have not agreed to pull this programming prior to the start of the RNC’s Summer Meeting on August 14, I will seek a binding vote stating that the RNC will neither partner with these networks in 2016 primary debates nor sanction primary debates they sponsor.”
Both networks waived off Priebus’ threats saying that he was prematurely judging the projects that are both in very early stages of development. They also pointed out that the projects would be produced by their respective entertainment divisions and that the news divisions would have no role whatsoever in their content. Priebus dismissed those responses and persisted in his assertion that the programs would be biased and that he would not permit his Party to be engaged with the networks should they proceed. He does not believe that the distinction between the news and entertainment divisions has any merit.
Well, today this melodrama became significantly more complex. The New York Times is reporting that NBC is in talks with Fox Television Studios to produce their miniseries. Fox has confirmed the report. NBC’s decision to go with Fox would be influenced in part by Fox’s extensive experience with long-form television.
The problem for Priebus and the GOP is that now they would have to exclude Fox News from holding any of their primary debates. After all, if they are going to take it upon themselves to be Hillary Clinton’s campaign operatives, then the GOP would be forced to show them the same treatment they show NBC and CNN. And Priebus couldn’t argue that Fox’s entertainment division is separate from their news division because he already rejected that argument.
So now the Republican Party may not be able to have debates on any of the cable news networks. This leaves them with only ABC and CBS. Well, technically, there is also the highest rated national network, Univision, but that doesn’t seem like a good fit for the Hispanic-hating GOP. Perhaps they could work something out with Al-Jazeera America. The GOP is getting closer to Rush Limbaugh’s ideal. Yesterday he offered some advice to Republicans:
“Do ‘em on your own network. Put on your own debates with your own moderators,” he said, because “Wherever you go outside of Fox, you are going up against the Democrat Party.”"
The opportunities for Republicans are getting narrower every day. I continue to believe, as I wrote last week, that the best thing that could happen to the Democrats is for Republicans to sequester themselves in the bosom of Fox News. It would limit their exposure to the broader electorate and the independents they need to win. It would also insure that their candidates were unvetted and unprepared for the real-life battles of a campaign. If they spend the primary season being fluffed by Fox, when they eventually face the general election they will be surprised by sharp criticisms from which they were shielded in their chummy primary.
But now they may not even be able to go to Fox. What will become of them? Will they wander the countryside looking for local broadcasters to carry their debates? Will they abandon TV altogether and have their debates on talk radio? I’m sure Limbaugh would appreciate that. Or more likely, they will retreat from their pompous rhetoric and consent to have their debates wherever they are fortunate enough to get an invitation. That is, if they’re smart. So don’t hold your breath.
[Update:] Priebus made a hysterical appearance on CNN’s State of the Union and tried desperately to wriggle out of any obligation to extend his GOP boycott to Fox News if they assume production of NBC’s project. His all too obvious dependency on Fox was in evidence as he attempted to dismiss their lead production role as akin to catering. He also reiterated that his goal is to protect Republican candidates from what he believes are unfriendly moderators. So, again, let him parade his flock on networks that will fluff them lovingly. That will soften them up for the kill when they reach the general election.
While it is still more than three years before the next presidential election, Fox News is desperately spinning polling results in order to diminish the broad popularity of Hillary Clinton.
In an article on Fox Nation (the notoriously dishonest Fox News community site), a poll conducted (pdf) by Monmouth University is given a thorough, four paragraph, analysis by conservative fabulist Michael Barone. The conclusion he draws from his careful examination of the poll data is that Clinton’s showing is “underwhelming.”
It takes a seriously determined feat of self-delusion to make that assessment. Clinton is shown to be beating every prominent Republican matched against her in the poll. She is ahead of Chris Christie 43-39; Marco Rubio 47-36; Jeb Bush 47-37; and Ted Cruz 48-32. She has the highest favorable rating (52%) of anyone in the field, including a net positive in the survey’s “red” states. The GOP’s Tea Party all-stars fare considerably worse: Rand Paul, 34%, Rubio, 33%; Cruz, 22%. And, not that this will be any factor in 2016, but Sarah Palin’s unfavorability soars over everyone else at a whopping 61%.
This tendency for Republicans to mis-read polling seems to be a permanent part of their character. During the 2012 campaign they famously embraced what they called “unskewed” polls, but were actually perversions of polling data that proved to be astronomically wrong. Facilitated by Fox News, these defective analyses produced a reality shock when President Obama was handily reelected. There was a near mental collapse on the right who didn’t think that such a thing was possible, despite all the legitimate polling that predicted it. Even Karl Rove persisted in an embarrassing on-air denial as the race was called for Obama.
After the election, the GOP and Fox News resolved to reexamine their perspectives on strategy, analysis, and reporting. However, it now appears that they have sunk back into their old habits of self-deception and disinformation. It’s fair to assume that this psychosis will produce the same results in 2014 and 2016 as they did in 2012. If you can’t face the reality of a situation, you can’t respond to what is actually taking place. And Fox seems determined to maintain their aversion to reality which, as Stephen Colbert has revealed, has “a well known liberal bias.”
Vowing to get an early start on efforts to remove Hillary Clinton from the White House, Republican leaders in congress have announced their intention to hold hearings on what they claim are the high crimes and misdemeanors that Hillary Clinton will commit once she assumes the presidency in January of 2017.
Although she has not yet been sworn in to office (or elected, or announced her candidacy) Republicans are determined not waste any time in initiating her impeachment. House Speaker John Boehner told reporters that…
“We do not want to repeat the mistakes we made in the previous [i.e. current] administration where we waited too long to get the ball rolling. After all, President Obama was in office for nearly a month before we took meaningful action to remove him.”
Some members of the GOP attribute the failure to impeach Obama on the late start they got on manufacturing allegations of malfeasance and ginning up outrage over imaginary scandals. Consequently, they chased after flimsy accusations of foreign birth and socialist aspirations that never caught on with the public. That left them facing a reelection campaign dominated by impotent sound bites of whether or not small businesses “built that” and desperate rejections of real data including poll results and unemployment numbers. Republican strategist Karl Rove Rove addressed these shortcomings saying…
“We are proud of the fallacies we created and promoted. No one worked harder to invent phony issues than we did. Could we have done better? Should we have connected Obama to Hitler more often, or the spread of the Bubonic Plague? Sure, but it’s always easier to criticize with hindsight.”
This is not to say that there weren’t zealous attempts to plunder the Obama presidency. Republican politicians, with the help of Fox News and the Koch brothers, worked feverishly to construct controversies designed to hobble the administration. They labored over “Fast and Furious,” Solyndra, Bill Ayres, and ObamaCare, which they unsuccessfully took all the way to the Supreme Court. Each of these affairs, and several more, were alleged to be “Obama’s Watergate,” but none of them gained any traction with a populace that proved to be smarter than the Tea Party – admittedly, not a very high bar.
The latest episode for which conservative muckrakers are crying wolf (or Watergate, as the case may be) is the tragedy that took the lives of four Americans in Benghazi, Libya. However, even with the help of near blanket broadcasting of Benghazi hysteria by Fox News, the utter lack of any compelling evidence of wrongdoing has turned the whole affair into a mushy smear campaign notable only for the tacky theatrics of the accusers. Even the specter of a cover-up fell flat when the proponents of that theory could not explain what exactly was being covered-up. “We forgot that little detail,” said Rep. Jason Chaffetz (Tea Party-UT).
Rather than risk a similar fate in the event that Clinton runs for and wins the presidency in 2016, Republicans are casting their lots now. Since it doesn’t matter whether the object of their scorn has actually done anything unlawful, why wait until the former senator and Secretary of State is in office to try her for the crimes they are planning to pin on her no matter what reality ultimately serves up. It’s a strategy that they believe conserves a great deal of political energy that would otherwise be wasted on honest politicking and the responsible stewardship of government.
Senator Mitch McConnell, who declared shortly after Obama’s first election victory that his primary legislative goal was to “make him a one-term president,” is devoting the same measure of commitment to the effort to pre-impeach Clinton. In remarks to the GOP caucus last week he reminded his fellow Republicans that their priorities ought not to change just because the complexion and gender of the person in the White House does.
“We have spent five years obstructing everything this president has attempted to do, from passing bills, to appointing judges and cabinet officials. This is not the time to let our guard down and be distracted by the burdens of actually governing or helping the nation recover from adversity.”
Asked for a comment when Clinton was told of the Republican campaign to impeach her, she said incredulously “What the fuck?” And walked away laughing uncontrollably. Her office later followed up with this statement:
“We have always known that these clowns were certifiable, and now we are seeing some of the best evidence of that. The Secretary has not yet made a decision as to whether or not she will run for president, but if she does she expects to campaign vigorously and appeal to the hearts and minds of the American people. She also expects to face dipshits in the Republican Party who, with their pals at Fox News, will manufacture insane theories and conspiracies, and she plans to wipe up the pavement with their lame asses.”
The congressional hearings on Benghazi continued today with their star attraction, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. It was as predictable a production of theatrics as might have been expected with Republicans spewing outlandish accusations at Clinton and Democrats rushing to her defense.
Watching from their secret lair, the editors of Fox Nation picked apart the testimony looking for soundbites they could misrepresent. They found one in an exchange with GOP Sen. Ross Johnson (WI-Tea Party) and quickly posted it with a thoroughly dishonest headline: “WH Says It Agrees With Hillary When She Said ‘It Doesn’t Make A Difference’ Who Killed 4 Americans In Benghazi.”
There are two obvious falsehoods contained in that item. First, Clinton never said that it “doesn’t make a difference who killed 4 Americans,” or anything remotely similar. She was responding to a question from Johnson about the early descriptions of what had taken place. There are still varying reports that are being sorted out. Clinton was saying that the debate over what was said in the first few hours or days after the assault was not as important as completing the investigation and bringing the perpetrators to justice. Here is the whole exchange:
JOHNSON: Again, we were misled that there were supposedly protests and then something sprang out of that, an assault spread out of that and that was easily ascertained that that was not the fact and the American people could have known that within days and they didn’t know that.
CLINTON: With all due respect, the fact is, we had four dead Americans. Was it because of a protest or because of guys out for a walk one night and decided to go kill some Americans? What difference, at this point, does it make? It is our job to figure out what happened and do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again, Senator. Now honestly, I will do my best to answer your questions about this but the fact is that people were trying in real time to get to the best information. The I.C. [Intelligence Community] has a process, I understand, going with the other committees to explain how these talking points came out. But to be clear, it is, from my perspective, less important today, looking backwards, as to why these militants decided they did it than to find them and bring them to justice and then maybe we’ll figure out what was going on in the meantime.
Clinton’s statement was the exact opposite of what the Fox Nationalists wrote in their headline. She was unambiguously stating that her specific concern was about who killed the Americans at the Benghazi facility. That could not have been missed unless it was a deliberate attempt to deceive.
The second falsehood in the headline is, of course, that the White House was not agreeing with the false characterization that Fox posted. They did, however, agree with what Clinton actually said. In fact, press secretary Jay Carney was explicitly agreeing that “whatever was said — based on information provided by the intelligence community – on a series of Sunday shows bears no ultimate relevance.”
So the statements of Clinton and Carney were in alignment, while the reporting of Fox was delusional. And as a small side note, Fox Nation sourced their report to the Washington Post in a link that went somewhere else. If you clicked the “WaPo” link you would have been taken to a right-wing blog called Weasel Zippers. That’s just another example of why you can’t trust anything you read at Fox Nation.
Conservatives and professional Obama haters have been nurturing an animosity for Obama that far exceeds anything directed at previous presidents. The lengths that they will go to bury Obama in mud often resemble D-Movie spy plots that set new standards for implausibility. The all too familiar birther conspiracies that allege that President Obama is a Manchurian socialist bent on transforming America into an Islamic Caliphate are mere fairy tales when compared to some of the horror stories that shiver the spines of the delusional right.
The frequency and outlandishness of their conspiratorial imaginations grows in sync with their desperation. With Obama leading in most polls and the election season drawing to a close, it seems like a good time to recap some of the more ludicrous conspiracies hatched by our conservative fear mongers. So with our tin-foil hats securely strapped on, let’s venture down the primrose path of hair-raising hypothesis.
Cooking the Unemployment Rate
The most recent crackpottery of the right was revealed last week as new unemployment numbers were released. The new data put the unemployment rate at 7.8%, the lowest it has been since the Bush administration cratered the economy on their way out of town. Almost immediately, right-wingers declared that the numbers were manufactured by Obama’s henchmen in the Labor Department. Never mind the fact that the Bureau of Labor Statistics is an independent body that currently has no Obama appointees serving. That didn’t stop conspiracists like Jack Welch from alleging that they are “Unbelievable jobs numbers..these Chicago guys will do anything..can’t debate so change numbers.” That unsubstantiated charge was adopted by Rep. Allen West, Fox News’ Stuart Varney, and much of the rest of the right-wing media circus.
The Media is Skewing the Polls
For several weeks now, Obama has maintained a steady lead in election polling. That fact has been difficult for conservatives to square with their conviction that Obama is the most hated man in America. Consequently, they must conclude that all of the polls have been tampered with by scheming liberals. However, for their conspiracy to be credible, they would have to include Fox News and Rasmussen amongst the conniving lefties because their polling also puts Obama in the lead. One way they have found to workaround that inconvenient fact is to ignore the polls that challenge their thesis. Therefore, Fox News simply neglects to report on polls that show the President leading – even their own Fox News polls.
Politicizing the Stock Market
In a year when the economy is such an integral part of the news cycle, conservatives have found it necessary to glom onto any factoid that they can use to bash the President. That manifests into a frenzy of spin that casts any decline in the stock market as the fault of Obama, and any increase as investor speculation that Obama is on the way out. Last week, many of the right-dominated business networks feebly described a positive day for the Dow as a Romney rally, simply because it occurred on the day after the presidential debate. There is a long history of the right making idiotic assessments of the stock market. In May of 2009, Fox News anchor Brenda Buttner gushed, “Call it a tea party rally. Wall Street’s sure partying, up six weeks in a row.” In September of 2011, Fox Nation reported “Stocks Tumble Worldwide After Obama Speech.” Then in June of 2012, they fantasized that “Stock Market Drops After Obamacare Upheld.” Fox’s Neil Cavuto hosted a discussion of what he called the “Bush recovery” nine months into Obama’s term. What they commonly miss is that markets traditionally perform better under Democratic administrations than Republicans.
Obama is Coming for Your Guns
This conspiracy theory takes a considerable measure of willful suspension of disbelief. The National Rifle Association has alerted its members that a second Obama term will result in the repeal of the second amendment and a wholesale confiscation of guns. Their evidence of this is that Obama has done nothing at all to roll back gun rights during his first term. That, they surmise, is a devious trick to lull gun rights advocates into a false sense of security. Then, when Obama is no longer facing a reelection campaign, he will be free to curtail all of our precious liberties.
The Social Security Administration’s Arms Cache
When it was discovered that the Social Security Administration had purchased 174,000 bullets, the right-wing sirens went off and presumed that they were preparing for massive civil unrest and intended to use the ammo on Americans. “‘Why would the U.S. government want the SSA to kill 174,000 of our citizens, even during a time of civil unrest?’ Maj. Gen. Jerry Curry wrote on the conservative website The Daily Caller.” That would be a good question if it weren’t rooted in utter dementia. In fact, the actual reason for the purchase was a routine acquisition to arm conventional security personnel at the agency’s offices across the country.
The Muslim Mole in the Secretary of State’s Office
A longtime aide to Hillary Rodham Clinton was accused by conservatives of having ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. Huma Abedin has worked with Clinton for many years as a trusted and effective public servant. No evidence was given for the repugnant allegations that cast her as a traitorous double agent. She is also married to former Rep. Anthony Weiner, who is Jewish and unlikely to be affiliated with Muslim extremists. But that didn’t stop Rep. Michele Bachmann who said, “it appears that there are individuals who are associated with the Muslim Brotherhood who have positions, very sensitive positions” in our government. She was joined by other prominent conservatives like Newt Gingrich and Frank Gaffney. This conspiracy dove-tails nicely with those alleging that Obama is a Muslim plant as well.
Fact-Checkers Are A Liberal Plot
Creative and shameless conservatives are establishing a new and unique front in the political war zone. Not satisfied with bashing everything about the media (despite the fact that talk radio and their own Fox News are a huge part of it), the wackoids on the right have declared war against – get this – Fact-checkers! This may seem wildly deranged, but upon reflection it makes perfect sense. If your entire movement is built on a foundation of lies, then fact-checkers are your mortal enemy. This became clear a few weeks ago when Neil Newhouse, a Mitt Romney adviser, publicly declared that “We’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers.” Since then they have disputed or ignored every challenge of their truthfulness. The result is a record setting collection of dishonorable mentions from PolitiFact and other media lie detectors.
The Secret Behind The Gulf Oil Spill
When millions of barrels of oil were pouring into the waters of the Gulf of Mexico, most Americans were disturbed by the devastating environmental damage and the negligence of the company operating the drilling platform. But conservatives led by Rush Limbaugh saw through the scheme and revealed that the massive malfunction was actually a deliberate act of sabotage devised to create a justification for eliminating all off-shore drilling. Limbaugh told his audience that “I want to get back to the timing of the blowing up, the explosion out there in the Gulf of Mexico of this oil rig … What better way to head off more oil drilling, nuclear plants, than by blowing up a rig?” You can’t argue with logic like that, because it’s the logic of a mad man who thinks the President would murder twelve workers and foul an environmentally sensitive region in order to achieve a political goal.
Obamacare’s Death Panels
No list of conspiracy theories would be complete without a mention of Sarah Palin’s “death panels.” These nefarious groups were said to have the power to decide whether your grandmother would live or die based on her level of productivity to society as determined by a team of government bureaucrats. In reality the section of the Affordable Care Act to which Palin referred actually provided for coverage to pay for end-of-life counseling. These were voluntary sessions to help patients determine and document what sort of life-saving measures they preferred in the event that they were incapacitated and unable to communicate their wishes to their doctors. When that proved to be an embarrassing misinterpretation of the law, conservatives switched to another section of the bill, the Independent Payment Advisory Board, and called that the death panel. However, the IPAB was simply a board that assessed the best practices in medicine and made non-binding recommendations in order to prevent excessive billing and unnecessary procedures. Palin was awarded the “Lie of the Year” award from PolitiFact for her imaginary panel.
The Green Plot to Enslave the World
Conservatives have never taken to science. So it should come as no surprise that many of them regard global warming as a hoax whose purpose is to enrich Al Gore and a few socialist wind farmers. But there is another faction of the anti-environment movement that has uncovered something even more dastardly lurking behind the effort to maintain a clean, sustainable planet. Agenda 21, a little known and non-binding resolution adopted by the United Nations is viewed by some on the right as an attempt to control the lives of people throughout the world by regulating everything they do. Amongst their paranoid fears is that Agenda 21 will cede U.S. sovereignty to the U.N. and a one-world government. The truth is that Agenda 21 is a set of principles to guide the development of practices to preserve a sustainable environment for future generations. It is entirely voluntary and was agreed to by the U.N. in 1992 and signed by President George H.W. Bush. But to hear doomsayers like Glenn Beck put it, it will “suck all the blood out of [our communities], and we will not be able to survive.”
These are but a few of the tales woven by angst-ridden right-wingers in the dark moments when their thoughts wander from rational reality. However, the science that they scorn may have an explanation for their fantastical imaginings. Ryota Kanai, at the University College London Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, examined how liberals and conservatives brains differ. Among the findings were that the brains of liberals have a larger anterior cingulate cortex which has been shown to produce thought proceses that are more flexible and reliant on data, proof, and analytic reasoning. Conservatives are more likely to have an enlarged amygdala which is associated with greater inflexibility, emotion, and fear response.
This could account for conservatives having a greater susceptibility to conspiracy models of thinking. Whatever the explanation, it is clear that their senses are working overtime and the results produce some pretty wild visions of nightmarish liberals threatening America’s very existence. They seem to have taken very seriously the warning from the Reagan-era horror film, The Fly: Be afraid. Be very afraid.
Michael Goodwin is a notoriously uber-conservative writer for Rupert Murdoch’s wingnut tabloid, the New York Post. This morning he ventured over to Murdoch’s Fox News studios to be interviewed about the presidential election. When the subject turned to vice-presidents, Goodwin couldn’t resist making a Mafia association with President Obama caste as the Godfather. His prediction is that Joe Biden will be disposed of to make room for Hillary Clinton on the Democratic ticket.
“Joe Biden is the Fredo of the Obama family and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him sent out on a little fishing boat one early morning. [...] If it comes close in the summer, if the polls show Obama trailing, he will make the switch. Hillary Clinton will be on the ticket and Joe Biden will be sleeping with the fishes.”
Twice in Goodwin’s remarks he refers to Biden being assassinated in order to reassign Clinton. The “little fishing boat” and “sleeping with the fishes” are both Mafia-speak for mob hits from the iconic Godfather movies.
The outlandishness of Goodwin’s assertions are nearly matched by his incoherent analysis. If Obama were going to ditch Biden he would have done so before having produced warehouses full of Obama/Biden campaign paraphernalia. And making such a switch later in the season would only reek of desperation. What’s more, Clinton has absolutely no incentive to leave her post as Secretary of State, where she is a dominant player on the world stage, for a demotion to vice-president, where she’d be relegated to attending funerals and other ceremonial duties. And the cherry on the top of Goodwin’s nuttiness is that he actually aligns himself with the political analysis of the deceased leader of Al Qaeda:
“Even Osama Bin Laden, in those letters, said that Biden is woefully unprepared to be president.”
When right-wingers praise Bin Laden as an ideological ally something has gone terribly wrong. But the right’s obsession with hostile rhetoric is well documented. They frequently engage in assassination fantasies featuring Obama, and they openly yearn for violent ends to their political adversaries. So it is not surprising to see them project their psychotic behavior onto the President and suggest that he would off his own VP. That’s how the right thinks about these matters, and they assume that everyone else is as emotionally perverse as they are themselves.
Glenn Beck was indisputably the stupidest man on CNN’s Headline News. He certainly holds a similarly high ranking in talk radio’s carnival of conservative clods. Next month Beck will debut his spanking new soap box on the Fox News Channel. Fox, of course is the home of Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, Steve Doocy, Dick Morris, Gretchen Carlson, etc. Beck must be starting to feel the strain of the competition he will encounter to be the network’s reigning rube.
So in anticipation of this battle of the blands, Beck had a workout with that international icon of intellect, Joe “the Plumber” Wurzelbacher. It bodes well for Beck that he emerged from the ring even stupider than Plumber Joe.
Much of the media attention for this event was focused on Wurzelbacher’s reversal of support for John McCain. Joe told Beck that being on the campaign trail with the Republican loser made him feel “even dirtier,” and that he wanted to “get off the bus” (although he thought that Sarah Palin was “the real deal”). But an even meatier exchange occurred that seems to have escaped the attention of the press (which should surprise precisely no one). In discussing the appointment of Hillary Clinton to be Barack Obama’s Secretary of State, Wurzelbacher said…
“I mean, you know, for example, you know, Hillary Clinton, the whole deal with her as far as becoming Secretary of State. You know, it’s kind of against — well, it’s not kind of. It’s against the Constitution right now where it stands. But they’re talking about getting around it.”
[Now I know why Joe is so fond of Palin. They speak the same language - also.]
Wurzelbacher reveals later in this interview that he learned this factoid from watching Sean Hannity. Now, watching Sean Hannity is risky enough. Learning something from him is downright foolhardy. The issue PJ is raising concerns the Constitutional prohibition against members of Congress being appointed to a position whose pay was increased during their congressional service. The Secretary of State received such an increase this year. However, this has occurred several times in the past, and then, like now, the lower salary was simply reinstated and the appointee took the job. While Wurzelbacher is too dumb to articulate this, Beck is so dumb that he doesn’t even know what Plumber Joe is referencing:
“Well, I think you are right on the money. I will tell you this in talking to one of my guys who’s deep in the Constitution, he’s saying that she can’t have two offices. That’s the problem. She can’t occupy the two offices and then two different branches, but it’s kind of iffy on that. It’s not really clear. And if she gets rid of her office, then it should be fine. But she couldn’t be a senator and Secretary of State. That’s the real problem there.”
No Glenn, that’s not the real problem, or any problem at all. Clinton has no intention of holding both offices. You must have pulled that notion right out of your … well, your brain, because your ass probably knows better. The governor of New York is already in the process of selecting Clinton’s successor in the Senate. You and your guys who are “deep in the Constitution” are deeply idiotic for managing to so thoroughly misunderstand both the Constitution and current events. You’re the real problem for being one of the foremost distributors of ignorance in America.
[FYI to GB: From the Constitution, Article I, Section 6, Paragraph 2:"...no person holding any office under the United States, shall be a member of either House during his continuance in office."So it's not the least bit "iffy"]
Even Joey the P disputed Beck’s mindless meanderings. You would think that Beck would be somewhat embarrassed by having been corrected by a fake plumber riding out his extended fifteen minutes of fame. That’s gotta hurt. But Beck also remains silent when Wurzelbacher declares that he doesn’t want to “stir up a hornet’s nest” by making untoward comparisons, then proceeds to say…
“…you know, when Adolf Hitler had come to power, one of the first things he did was take guns away [...] some of the things that our current elected President Obama is suggesting really goes down a socialist road…”
I have to admit that I’ve been having a bit of fun at Plumber Joe’s expense for the past few weeks. It’s awfully easy to do when someone so devoid of a clue continues to humiliate himself in public. But if Glenn Beck can get his own TV program and a $50 million contract for his radio babbling, then Plumber Joe is entitled to his silly little book and the occasional guest spot the Wally Wingnut Show. And Beck can rest assured that he has nothing to worry about with regard to retaining his title. He is, and will remain, the World’s Champion Intellectual Featherweight.
What is it with these Fox News contributors who are incapable of repressing their fantasies of violence against Barack Obama? This morning on the Live Desk, a discussion on Obama’s emerging cabinet led to another disturbing and repulsive threat directed at the President-elect.
Eric Metaxas, an author of (get this) children’s books, was making the argument that naming Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State would be inviting trouble for Obama. Metaxas asserted that Clinton would seek to grab all of the attention and that her omnipotent power would overcome Obama. That analysis fails to give Obama credit for defeating her in the primary, which might suggest that he would not be so easily dominated. Metaxas, however, thinks Clinton is untrustworthy and having her in the cabinet would be like “dancing with a snake.” He likened it to President Lyndon Johnson during the Kennedy administration. I was unaware that Johnson overshadowed Kennedy. So was Bob Beckel, who then initiated the following exchange:
Beckel: Who got more attention – Kennedy or LBJ? Metaxas:Who got shot?
Without sharpening my mind-reading skills, it’s difficult to know precisely what Metaxas meant by that. But I can’t come up with any justification for how that could be used in this context, other than that Metaxas believes that LBJ had something to with Kennedy’s assassination, and that Clinton will play the same role in the Obama saga.
There are plenty of Kennedy conspiracy theorists out there, and some finger LBJ as a participant. But Clinton would have to knock off Biden, Pelosi, and Byrd too, before she would benefit from such a plot. Consequently, Metaxes’ comment makes no sense. It is just an unnecessary passage into a dark territory that is all the more troubling due to the increasingly threatening environment that surrounds the new president. The Secret Service reports receiving more threats against Obama than any previous president-elect (thanks to Sarah Palin).
“I don’t want to go on a lynching party against Michelle Obama unless there’s evidence, hard facts, that say this is how the woman really feels.”
These are not random crackpots posting anonymously on some blog. These are paid commentators on a major news network. The cumulative effect of these repeated atrocities could plausibly lead to real crimes as mental suggestions are planted and a general numbness sets in.
The fact that Fox gets away with it is problematic not just because of the obvious disgust that it entails, but the very notion that they persist in this behavior with little notice or consequences makes my skin crawl.
Hyperactive Hillary Clinton surrogate, Lanny Davis, is the newest Fox News contributor. He joins recent hires Like Karl Rove, Laura Ingraham, and Mike Huckabee. I guess that’s what he considers good company.
Davis will follow comfortably in the footsteps of other Foxocrats (Democrats who happily bash fellow Democrats for the edification of Fox viewers): Alan Colmes, Kirsten Powers, Geraldine Ferraro, etc.
This election season will see the Foxocrats joined by the McRats. This hilarious concatenation of McCain and Democrats results in the inadvertent, yet appropriate, branding of these turncoats as rats. The McRats are led by King Rat, Joe Lieberman, and their ranks range from such influential figures as a former Highlands County, FL, sheriff, to a former member of the Palmyra, ME, Budget Committee.
Between the McRats and the Foxocrats, Barack Obama must be shaking in his Birkenstocks.
This past week has seen a perverse conspiracy of events that strains the capacity for people of good will to avoid giving up on civilization all together.
It began with the sad news that Sen. Ted Kennedy was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. As the shock and trauma of that news was settling in, James Rosen of Fox News declared on air that this could not be considered a tragedy because he had lived (past tense) a full life. Soon after, radio Neanderthal Michael Savage decided it would be appropriate to play snippets of the 1980′s punk band The Dead Kennedys, which Savage said was “in respect” for the Senator. Finally, Hillary Clinton weighed in on why she persists in pursuit of a nomination she can’t possibly win:
“My husband did not wrap up the nomination in 1992 until he won the California primary somewhere in the middle of June, right? We all remember Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in June in California.”
So while Sen. Kennedy is awaiting a treatment plan for an often fatal affliction, Sen. Clinton is using brother Bobby’s demise to remind voters that Sen. Obama might be felled before this is all over. If she has any conscience at all, she would be regretting tonight that she didn’t drop out of the race yesterday.
Dragging The Dead Kennedys into this has produced an unexpected benefit in the form of wisdom from their singer, and inspirational hurricane, Jello Biafra. For those not familiar with the band, they were an anarchic, brood of rebellious provocateurs. They chafed at anything hinting of authority. And they would have stuffed a slug like Savage down a garbage disposal if he looked at them funny back in the day. Biafra responded to Savage’s prank in an interview with The Phoenix:
“Obviously he took my song way the hell out of context and did it deliberately. But the bigger issue is Savage himself and how the hell he gets away with stuff like saying this…”
But Biafra went further to assail the broader problem of a media environment that has devolved into a nearly useless heap of bio-waste:
“It scares the shit out of me that the most popular radio talk-show hosts are all foaming-at-the-mouth, ultra-bigoted blabbermongers whom only North Korea or the Nazis could love.
But like it or not, Savage is the third-most popular radio-talk show host in this country behind Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity. Nobody from the other side is represented or promoted well enough by the big right-wing-owned radio networks to compete. That’s one of the ways they mindfuck the country into being so dumb they vote for people like George Bush, Mitt Romney and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
The real issue here is why aren’t the big candidates calling for media reform?”
“The damage was further compounded when your friend and mine Bill Clinton rammed through the Telecommunications Act of 1996, further deregulating how many radio stations and media outlets one corporation can own and what they can do with them and they greenlighted their long-held agenda to throw public interest out the window.”
Jello totally nails it. This problem is bigger than a radio crap dispenser; it’s bigger than a Fox News buffoon; it’s even bigger than a pathetic presidential candidate who is the only one that doesn’t know she’s lost. The problem is the media and, were it fixed, these other travesties would be mere annoyances.
Hillary Clinton’s rendezvous with O’Reilly is now history. All that is left is to try to assess the damage and establish what lessons were learned.
The Damage: Bill O’Reilly’s ratings leaped 81% in total viewers and 43% in the 25-54 demo (two night average). That is a massive, though temporary, increase and it will have the effect of inflating his average over time. I’m assuming that the bulk of the new viewers were Clinton supporters, curious independents, or morbid voyeurs hoping to observe a train wreck. It is highly unlikely that these numbers will endure. Last year I did an analysis that showed that Fox News viewers were more loyal to the network and its stars than they were to Bush or Republicans: The Cult Of Foxonalityâ„¢. O’Reilly’s base audience will quickly return to normal, probably tonight. (For the record, The Factor’s ratings dropped significantly from part one of the Clinton interview, to part two. There was a 12% decline in total viewers and a 26% drop in the 25-54 demo).
However, the damage is done. O’Reilly gets his ratings spike, bragging rights, and legitimacy transferred by osmosis from Clinton. Clinton gets nothing. O’Reilly’s base audience is firmly predisposed against her. The visiting viewers have all had plenty of opportunities to see her on other networks. So if you’re scoring it’s O’Reilly: 1.2 million (viewers) – Clinton: zero.
The Lessons: Now that both Clinton and Obama have capitulated to Fox News, will Fox abandon their crusade to defeat Democrats? Hardly. Consider a couple of the classic taunts frequently leveled at Democrats by Foxies:
“If you can’t deal with Fox how can you deal with Iran or Al Qaeda?”
Now that the Democrats have dealt with Fox, will Fox announce their confidence in the Democrats’ ability to deal with terrorists and hostile nations?
“The Democratic Party is held hostage by “far-left, liberal interests groups” like MoveOn, DailyKos, and MediaMatters, who pressure them to reject Fox.”
Now that the Democrats have accepted Fox, proving that these groups are not controlling them, will Fox cease to make these accusations? Will they refrain from disparaging our patriotism? Will they stop insinuating that we’re socialists? Will they present honestly our positions on war, faith, global warming, health care, etc.?
Clearly the answer to the questions above is “No on all counts!” In fact, the reversion to form has already begun. Chris Wallace can hardly contain his glee that the Democrats have folded. This morning he explained to the Fox & Friends crew why he was in such a good mood:
“…after all the boycotting, after all the huffing and puffing, [the Democrats] have found their way to Fox News, and you know, it’s really fun to watch, and particularly to watch the heartburn among the left-wing base – the anti-war, the MoveOn.org, they can’t stand it.”
In this spew of triumphant ecstasy, Wallace has just admitted his own personal bias against a broad swath of progressive citizens. And, shockingly, it is not just a political bias. He is actually deriving pleasure from the pain of the ideologically diverse majority of Americans who oppose the war. Indeed, he is laughing at them … at us.
He also joked with F&F that John Edwards’ poor performance in the presidential race is somehow attributable to his refusal to go on Fox? By that logic, Obama’s and Clinton’s success in the race is likewise attributable to their refusals to go on Fox. They only just agreed to appear this week, so all of their prior success was achieved without Fox and, therefore, due to its Foxlessness.
“The greatest thing about this interview . . . is that it’s emasculated all these far-left extortion types like MoveOn and the Kos, which threatened Hillary Clinton and threatened Barack Obama and all the other Democrats.”
So the greatest thing to O’Reilly is “emasculate[ing] all these far-left extortion types.” The most fun for Wallace is “watch[ing] the heartburn among the left-wing base.” It should be noted that the number of members of MoveOn and DailyKos alone exceed the number of viewers of many of Fox’s programs. And there is much more to the liberal base than those two examples. From what part of this should Democrats and progressives draw comfort? Fox doesn’t care about the interview. They don’t care about informing the public. They only care about how badly they can cripple their enemies.
Bill O’Reilly, Chris Wallace, Brit Hume, et al, were flailing pathetically when they were being ignored by the cool kids. We were having a real impact on their ratings, their revenue, their reputation, and their respiration. It was unwise to loosen the screws at this time. Hopefully, after having seen how they’ve reacted to our largess, our Democratic representatives will realize that Fox News is unfriendly and untrustworthy. They will whine about not being invited to the party, but will break all your furniture when you admit them. Then the whining will begin all over again.
Hillary Clinton is following in the futile steps of Barack Obama after his appearance on Fox News Sunday. My analysis of that affair applies in spades to Clinton’s announcement that she will fraternize with the noxious Bill O’Reilly this Wednesday. This is what I said about Obama’s lapse in judgment:
“A strong performance will net him nothing because the audience is limited in both size and ideological diversity. It will end right there. But the slightest misstep will be magnified a hundred fold throughout the Murdoch empire.”
It’s even worse for Clinton. The number one priority for O’Reilly is to applaud his own magnificence. The boundaries of his ego are approaching a state that is becoming an imminent danger to Earth’s orbit. The number two priority for O’Reilly is to bash Democrats. In pursuit of that he will have an ally in Sen. Clinton. She is likely to use this opportunity to assail Obama on tangents like Rev. Wright. And if she doesn’t volunteer to do so, O’Reilly will provide her with the opening. O’Reilly’s obsession with Wright is a near fetish. He has featured the ex-pastor in 19 of his 26 Talking Points Memos since the story broke last month.
Clinton’s friendliness with right-wing media is nothing new, of course. She attended a fundraiser thrown for her by Rupert Murdoch, then was endorsed by his New York Post. She sat down with Richard Mellon Scaife, who had accused her of murder when she was still First Lady, then was endorsed by his Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Her campaign’s General Chairman, Terry McAuliffe, appears in Fox News promos lauding their fairness and balance. And now she will sit across the table from the 21st century’s Father Coughlin.
As I’ve said many times before, no good can come of this. In Clinton’s case it is even more foreboding because she has demonstrated a willingness to collude with conservative opponents for her political gain. Obama promised to “take Fox on” prior to meeting with Wallace. He didn’t. If Clinton gives O’Reilly a hard time, he will hit back, but not until after she has left the stage, and for days after that. But he will come close to endorsing her if she throws him enough red meat about Obama.
There is just no upside. Fox only exists to defeat Democrats. When will these people learn?
The propaganda scandal uncovered last week by the New York Times has been virtually blacked-out by the rest of the media – particularly television. Even though this may be the most brazen act of disinformation ever perpetrated against American citizens. Why would the press seemingly act in concert to bury this story?
It really doesn’t take much imagination to understand the panic these media outlets must be experiencing. The Pentagon-driven program of dispatching retired generals to serve as TV pundits with the intention of painting an artificially rosy picture of the war in Iraq poses a slippery dilemma. These TV networks were either pawns, dupes, or accomplices, in a scheme to mislead the country and enrich the players. Therefore, it is not surprising that the media has acted to sweep it all under the rug. To report on it would be to indict themselves.
Senator Clinton is very concerned by a recent press report that the Department of Defense (DOD) hid behind “an appearance of objectivity” in a concerted media “campaign to generate favorable news coverage of the administration’s wartime performance.” The report raises issues of credibility and trust at the Pentagon.
Senator Obama is deeply disturbed by this latest evidence that the Bush Administration has sought to manipulate the public’s trust. From its misleading case to go to war with a country that had nothing to do with 9/11, to its argument for keeping our troops in Iraq indefinitely, the Administration has depended on spin because its assertions have not been supported by facts.
Both Democrats are calling for various levels of investigation. So is the Pentagon, whose spokesman has announced that they are temporarily suspending the program “pending further review.” The only candidate to fail to take a position is that straight-talking maverick, John McCain. Of course he may be the only public official who has been even more unquestioningly upbeat than the bought and paid for war spinners.
This isn’t over. It is still possible to get the press to be responsible and to perform their duty to inform the public. Write letters and emails to any national and/or local media outlet you patronize. And be sure to visit FreePress where they are collecting signatures to urge Congress to further investigate this breach of the public trust.
Fox News has begun airing promos announcing that Barack Obama will appear this week on Chris Wallace’s Fox News Sunday. This is a huge error in judgment and is sorely disappointing. There is literally no advantage for Obama to subject himself to the prejudices of a network that is overtly hostile to his candidacy. What’s worse is that Obama seems to be capitulating to pressure applied by Wallace himself.
Last month, in a fit of pique, Wallace launched the Obama Watch to shame the candidate into granting Wallace an interview. The whole ploy was unprofessional and innately biased as it sought to portray Obama as either uncooperative or afraid. Having succumbed to the tactic, Obama will now be interrogated by a man who has called Democrats “damned fools” on a network that is an endless loop of Rev. Wright and Bill Ayers videos, when they aren’t talking about how elitist or unpatriotic he is.
At this point in the Democratic primary every appearance, every speech, every minute of a candidate’s time is precious. Why Obama thinks that this engagement with Fox in any way benefits him is inexplicable. The potential audience has little to no value for Democrats. And as the perennial fourth place finisher out of the four Sunday news shows, the potential audience is also, well … little.
My previous article, “Fox News: For Republicans Only,” shows clearly that Fox is unabashedly partisan. It’s CEO, Rupert Murdoch, is maxed out to both John McCain and Hillary Clinton in campaign donations. Nothing for Obama. For evidence of Murdoch’s hostile intent one need only to refer to his New York Post’s endorsement of Obama that reads more like an indictment. [See Starve The Beast for a detailed analysis of why it is not only pointless, but harmful, for Democrats to appear on Fox News]
This is nothing but a trap. It makes Obama look small for having conceded. It exposes him to risks from a pseudo-news operation that is working openly with his opponents to orchestrate his defeat. A strong performance will net him nothing because the audience is limited in both size and ideological diversity. It will end right there. But the slightest misstep will be magnified a hundred fold throughout the Murdoch empire. Look for any rhetorical slip to be broadcast incessantly on the Fox cable and radio networks. Watch for it to be published in over 100 News Corp. newspapers and magazines. Then wait for the rest of the media to pick it up and pile on.
In addition, Obama’s presence will lend his credibility to a news enterprise that has none of its own. Fox will immediately brag about having made him cry “uncle” and cite it as a victory that proves that they cannot be ignored. They may even edit Obama into future network promos as they just did with Clinton’s campaign chief, Terry McAuliffe.
We can only hope now that Obama has a change of heart or a scheduling conflict that forces him to cancel this interview. Almost any other use of his time will be more productive since this use will be only counterproductive. Fox only wants this so that they can build themselves up and tear the likely Democratic nominee for president down. No good can come of it.
Update: It didn’t take long but, just as I predicted, Fox is already bragging about Obama’s retreat. Chris Wallace responded to charges that his “Obama Watch” was obnoxious saying, “It may have been obnoxious but it was also effective.” He went on to boast that Obama must need Fox because of his loss in Pennsylvania. I told you so.
Last month Hillary Clinton met with the editors of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review to discuss her campaign in the Pennsylvania primary. The Tribune-Review is owned by ultra right-wing media baron Richard Mellon Scaife. Now the Tribune-Review has published their choice for the Democratic presidential nominee.
“For Pennsylvania Democrats, the smart choice Tuesday is Mrs. Clinton.”
This development caps a weekend of irony for Clinton.
On Saturday a recording was released wherein we hear Clinton bashing MoveOn.org, and accusing them of intimidating her supporters. With the Tribune-Review endorsement we have the unlikely scenario of Clinton slamming a loyal progressive organization that was founded to defend her husband from impeachment, while being endorsed by Scaife’s organization that fought for his impeachment and accused her of murder.
On Sunday Barack Obama was quoted as saying that he, Clinton and McCain would all be better than George Bush. Clinton seized on that statement to say…
“We need a nominee who will take on John McCain, not cheer on John McCain.”
I wholeheartedly agree. Which is why I found it so distasteful when last month both Hillary and Bill Clinton cheered on McCain. Breathe in the hypocrisy:
Hillary: “[McCain] will put forth his lifetime of experience. I will put forth my lifetime of experience. Senator Obama will put forth a speech he made in 2002.”
Bill: “…it would be a great thing if we had an election year where you had two people [Hillary and McCain] who loved this country and were devoted to the interest of this country.”
Hillary Clinton and her campaign has displayed the most overt fondness for right-wing media of all the presidential contenders, including Republicans. She has agreed to participate in Fox News-sponsored debates when her Democratic colleagues have declined. She accepted donations from Rupert Murdoch. Just last week she sat for an interview with the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, and its owner Richard Mellon Scaife, who has spent hundreds of millions of dollars to smear her and her family.
This morning Scaife published an editorial that praised Clinton as having “courage and confidence” and proclaimed that his impression of her is now “a very favorable” one. Can Scaife expect this endorsement to be taken seriously when he has previously accused her of everything from financial corruption to murder? A couple of other inconsistencies to ponder: Scaife is in the midst of an ugly divorce with an ex who supports Obama. And Scaife has contributed the maximum allowed donation to John McCain.
Also this morning, Clinton surrogate and Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell appeared on Fox & Friends to say that “Fox has done the fairest job, has remained most objective of all the cable networks.”
Perhaps Rendell was referring to the steady stream of Obama bashing as evidence of their fairness.