Former Fox News Watch Host: The People Who Watch Fox News Are Cultish

This morning on CNN’s “Reliable Sources” host Brian Stelter interviewed the former host of the Fox News program “News Watch.” That program was canceled in 2008 and its host, Eric Burns, was fired. It’s replacement, “MediaBuzz,” is now led by a more reliable hack, Howard Kurtz, who isn’t troubled by having to peddle the partisan garbage that Fox spews.

Fox News

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On Reliable Sources, Stelter raised the ever-expanding controversy over Bill O’Reilly’s diuretic flow of lies about his past adventures as a news superhero. Stelter opened with with statements from the order of nuns who lost four of their members to death squads in El Salvador. They were disturbed by O’Reilly’s false assertion that he had personally witnessed the executions. O’Reilly later admitted that he had only seen photographs, but failed to apologize or even acknowledge that his prior claims were false.

At the top of the interview segment, Burns told Stelter that he had experienced the extraordinary effect of the audience loyalty at Fox News, saying that “The people who watch Fox News are cultish.” [a condition that News Corpse documented a few months ago] and that “O’Reilly, as the head of the cult, is not held to the same standards as Brian Williams. Burns went on to give credit to MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann who had frequently pointed out O’Reilly’s predilection for lying, with evidence proving it. Then Stelter asked Burns to comment on the shift by Fox News to ever more right-wing slanted programming. Burns said that…

“I thought that as Fox got more and more popular that Roger Ailes, who runs the network, would say ‘Well, the right has nowhere else to go, so if I move a little more to the center I can get a bigger audience and not lose my core audience.’ He did just the opposite. He went more to the right.”

It’s important to note that Burns hosted a program that was already severely slanted to the right. He had four panelists that included a single “liberal,” pretty much setting the model for every other panel on Fox (i.e. MediaBuzz, The Five, Special Report, Cashin In, Fox News Sunday, etc.). So Burns is no progressive mole. However, he was astute enough to recognize the downside of being associated with Fox News and replied to inquiries after his departure by expressing relief that…

“I do not have to face the ethical problem of sharing an employer with Glenn Beck.”

On Fox’s MediaBuzz this morning, host Kurtz completely ignored the O’Reilly affair, choosing instead to focus on negative stories about Hillary Clinton’s email, Obama’s speech in Selma, AL, and Netanyahu’s speech before Congress. Throw in a suck-up profile of Rand Paul and all of the criticisms expressed by Burns begin to be obvious. But don’t tell that to the cult members who watch Fox. They threaten to throw another Tea Party.

And Speaking of Cults: Get the ALL NEW 2nd volume of
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

Despite Their Own Conceit, Fox News Is About As Scary As Honey Boo Boo

As America’s number one network for extreme, right-wing political bias and propaganda, Fox News relishes every opportunity to disparage their ideological foes and to sanctimoniously exalt themselves as protectors of their twisted versions of the truth. One of the favorite tactics of Fox News is to taunt public figures who make the completely rational decision to avoid the abuse that they would endure were they to submit to being interviewed by the network’s bullies and ignorant partisans. This week there was another example of that attempted intimidation by Fox’s media reporter, Howard Kurtz.

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Kurtz appeared on The Kelly File with fill-in host and terrorist profiler Shannon Bream, a former beauty pageant contestant and graduate of Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University with no journalism training. The topic of the segment was departing Attorney General Eric Holder’s scheduled interviews with some news networks that did not, as of yet, include Fox. Bream queued Kurtz up by asking “Does he help himself at all by walking out the door and slamming it in our faces.” That totally unbiased question got this response from Kurtz:

“I think that it’s a sign of confidence when any politician, political figure, cabinet officer, congressman, is willing to sit down and take tougher questions from those you might perceive to be your harshest critics. […] Is the nation’s top law enforcement officer really afraid of [Fox News anchor] Bret Baier?”

Any suggestion that Holder, or anyone else who chooses to keep their distance from Fox News, is afraid of them is utter nonsense. That’s like saying you’re afraid of being interviewed by Honey Boo Boo, when the truth is you’re just smart enough to not waste your time. Notorious liar Bill O’Reilly has used the accusation of fear repeatedly, but frankly I’d be more afraid of Honey Boo boo.

Furthermore, if Kurtz even bothers to take his own analysis seriously, then why doesn’t he apply it to Republicans? He seems so disturbed that a single administration official is waving off Fox News, but he doesn’t seem bothered at all that the entire Republican Party is boycotting MSNBC. Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee has stated publicly that there will be no GOP presidential primary debates on that network. There will be four on Fox. Therefore, according to his own logic, Kurtz is implying that that every single one of the GOP candidates for president are afraid of Rachel Maddow?

What’s even more interesting about this is that the GOP candidates are even afraid of the friendly venues they have chosen for themselves. The RNC has drastically reduced the number of debates and assumed control of who will moderate them and ask questions. That was done to avoid a repeat of the embarrassing displays put on by Republicans during the 2012 election cycle. On one hand that may be a wise decision on their part considering the proclivity for Republicans to say stupid things. On the other hand it shelters them from the real world of political brawling that might toughen them up for the general election. And it exposes them as fearful of letting their candidates express themselves by taking positions for which they would later be held accountable.

News Corpse Presents: The ALL NEW 2nd volume of
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

After being left off of a preliminary list of networks that would be interviewing Holder, Fox News VP Michael Clemente whined that Holder’s reluctance to subject himself to the petty carping of Fox’s confirmed haters does a disservice to “the interests of a free press.” Apparently he doesn’t understand the phrase “free press.” You have to wonder where he gets the notion that a free press requires every public figure to submit to every media outlet, no matter how disreputable and hostile. It would be more correct to applaud Holder for showing respect for a free press by declining to validate Fox’s deceitful brand of pseudo-journalism.

Whether or not Holder grants Fox News an opportunity to malign him in person, it is clear that neither he, nor anyone else, is afraid of Fox. They just show it the measure of respect it deserves. But Republicans are demonstrating that they terrified of MSNBC and every other media outlet, including Fox, by implementing a policy that prohibits them from engaging in any public debates that aren’t sanctioned by the party apparatchiks. That’s a story that Kurtz will never report.

Killing Bill O’Reilly: The Fox News Bloviator Calls Everyone Who Is Against Him Poopyheads

The case of the Bill O’Reilly war mythology is continuing, and even heating up, as O’Reilly embarks on a take-no-prisoners mission to exonerate himself and crush his enemies. [Read this if you need to catch up] Unfortunately for him, he is shooting blanks that make a loud noise but fail to inflict any injury on those he is targeting.

Fox News Bill O'Reilly

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On CNN’s Reliable Sources Sunday morning, host Brian Stelter reported that he has statements from six other reporters who covered the Falklands war for CBS and not a single one corroborated O’Reilly’s self-aggrandizing accounts. To the contrary, they repudiated O’Reilly’s ludicrous embellishments entirely.

Stelter interviewed Eric Engberg who was a CBS News correspondent stationed in Argentina at the same time as O’Reilly. Engberg flatly denied O’Reilly’s claims that there was gunfire and people dying all around him in Buenos Aires, which is 1,200 miles from the actual war zone in the Falklands. Engberg also said that O’Reilly lied when he claimed that he was the only CBS correspondent courageous enough to leave the hotel during the demonstrations that followed the Argentine surrender to the UK. According to Engberg and others, there were as many as five reporters with camera crews in the field.

So O’Reilly phoned home (aka Fox News) to defend himself on Howard Kurtz’s MediaBuzz. He immediately set off on a mouth-foaming rant castigating his critics with childish insults and accusations of political and personal motives to destroy him. In his tantrum he called Engberg a coward and even browbeat his colleagues (Kurtz and media critic David Zurawik) interrupting them frequently to belligerently press his case, for which he provided no factual basis other than that his critics were left-wing meanies and thumbsuckers who just don’t like him. This exchange is typical of the tone O’Reilly set during the interview with his Fox associate and defender as represented in this exchange:

Kurtz: [David] Corn has been a Washington reporter for a long time and some people respect his work.
O’Reilly: Who? Name one. [Kurtz giggles] You can’t. He is a hatchet man. You know he is. He’s an aparatchnik (sic) from the far left and all of this is driven … Stelter from CNN … you don’t get more far left than this guy.

No one will be surprised that O’Reilly resorted to name-calling and politically inspired McCarthyism to attempt to demean and dismiss anyone who says something about him that is less than worshipful. But his allegations about Engberg and Stelter are outright delusional and blatantly self-serving. What’s more, his hostility toward Kurtz, who has taken his side during this sordid affair, shows just how desperate he is. For his part, Kurtz was obviously cowed by O’Reilly’s assault. His furtive giggling and acquiescence to O’Reilly’s assertion that, because he wasn’t prepared with a list of Corn’s admirers there must not be any, was almost painful to watch. As was O’Reilly’s blustery defense of himself and conviction that he would do everything the same if he had it to do over:

Kurtz: Seems to me, in my analysis of this, that the Mother Jones piece ultimately, if you boil it down, comes down to this semantic question. You have said you covered a “combat situation” in Argentina during the Falklands war. You’ve said “war zones of Falkland conflict” in Argentina. Looking back do you wish you had worded it differently?
O’Reilly: No! When you have soldiers, military police, firing into the crowd as the New York Times reported, and you have people injured and hurt and you’re in the middle of that, that’s a definition, alright? This is splitting hairs, trying anything they can to bring down me because of the Brian Williams situation.

Yep, as always, it’s all about him. Never mind the facts. And his “definition” of a war zone makes no sense. Policing a demonstration is completely different from combat, even if the demonstration turns deadly. And there is no corroboration of that from his CBS colleagues. O’Reilly cannot produce a single person to validate his story. He is utterly alone in his pompously boastful memories. That makes judging his veracity pretty easy. The one piece of written evidence he cited was a story in the New York Times that described the protests in Buenos Aires. However, the author of that article points out that O’Reilly deceptively edited the portion of his story that he read on the air.

As an example of O’Reilly’s hilariously twisted recollection, he told Kurtz that Engberg’s dispute was due to the fact that “he wasn’t there.” And O’Reilly knows this because when he left the hotel Engberg was still there. And when he returned in the evening Engberg was also there. Obviously, therefore, Engberg never left the hotel. In O’Reilly’s shrunken brain Engberg could not possibly have left after O’Reilly, spent the day reporting in the field, and returned before him.

News Corpse Presents: The ALL NEW 2nd volume of
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

In the end, this latest episode in O’Reilly’s media campaign to exonerate himself fell flat. He offered no proof of any of the controversial remarks he has made and they have all been refuted by others on the scene. He launched a shock and awe attack on his critics who have no ax to grind. All he did was cement the impression of him as a bully and a blowhard who demands that the world love him as much as he does. This isn’t going to go away any time soon, and O’Reilly can’t pay off his accusers as he did with Andrea Mackris, the O’Reilly Factor producer he sexually harassed. You can read more about that in this 2004 Washington Post article written by – – Howard Kurtz.

UPDATE (2/24/2015): Obviously O’Reilly thinks this a potentially damaging issue. For the second consecutive day O’Reilly spent much of his program defending himself. He played segments of the original video provided by CBS from Buenos Aires in 1982. Nothing he aired corroborated his account of people dying or his reputed acts of heroism. And his latest defense never addressed his false claims to have been in an “active war zone.” But one thing the video did do is prove that O’Reilly lied when he said that he was the only CBS correspondent courageous enough to leave the hotel to report the demonstrations. The video shows three other reporters doing remotes: Eric Engberg, Charles Gomez, and Bob Schieffer.

In other news, O’Reilly had an exchange with a reporter from the New York Times that ended with him threatening her saying that if he was unhappy with the story “I am coming after you with everything I have. You can take it as a threat.” And that’s a perfect illustration of how O’Reilly, and Fox News generally, deal with criticism.

Fox News Helps Bill O’Reilly Defend His Combat Lies By Lying Even More

[Be sure to see this update (2/22/15) with O’Reilly’s interview on Fox’s MediaBuzz]

Two weeks ago News Corpse reported that Bill O’Reilly had committed substantially the same sins of historical “embellishment” that got NBC’s Brian Williams a six month suspension. He said on numerous occasions that he had been personally involved in combat situations where his life was at risk. None of it was true.

Fox News Bill O'Reilly

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This week David Corn of Mother Jones did a more in-depth article that documented additional instances of O’Reilly misrepresenting his war reporting. Corn’s piece was a fair investigation into O’Reilly’s own accounts of his past that significantly differ from reality. It’s a must read to understand the full measure of O’Reilly’s dishonesty.

Not surprisingly, Fox News and O’Reilly himself are hitting back hard to dispute Corn’s well researched article. O’Reilly has resorted to the most childish sort of response by calling Corn names such as “guttersnipe, irresponsible, liar,” and that old O’Reilly stand-by, “far left zealot.” What he never does is refute a single charge made in the article with any facts. The whole of O’Reilly’s defense is his insistence that “Everything I’ve reported about my journalistic career is true.” If that’s so, then why doesn’t he prove it?

The Fox Nation posted an advance transcript of O’Reilly’s Talking Points Memo that he delivers at the start of every broadcast. This is possibly the first time that has ever been done, which speaks to the gravity of this problem and how seriously O’Reilly considers the potential fallout. In the transcript O’Reilly repeats the insults aimed at Corn that he previously gave to reporters and adds more invective directed to his publisher, saying “Mother Jones … which has low circulation … considered by many the bottom rung of journalism in America.”

The “many” to which O’Reilly refers is likely his family and the dimwits who watch his program. In the real world Mother Jones is a respected publication that has distinguished itself by winning numerous journalism awards including honors from the National Press Club, The PEN American Center, American Society of Magazine Editors, Society of Professional Journalists, Online News Association, and a 2012 George Polk Award for Corn’s investigation of the now famous 47% speech by Mitt Romney. The Polk Award may have provided the harshest sting because it is one that O’Reilly was caught lying about having received himself. It was now-Sen. Al Franken who exposed that O’Reilly fib.

Rushing to O’Reilly’s aid is Fox’s media analyst and host of MediaBuzz, Howard Kurtz. In an article posted to the Fox News website, Kurtz whitewashes O’Reilly’s self-mythologizing by asserting that “the Mother Jones piece appears to turn on semantics.” Then Kurtz posts some of O’Reilly’s false statements that are not remotely semantic in nature. For instance:

–In a 2001 book, O’Reilly said: “I’ve reported on the ground in active war zones from El Salvador to the Falklands.”

–In a Washington panel discussion, O’Reilly said: “I’ve covered wars, okay? I’ve been there. The Falklands, Northern Ireland, the Middle East. I’ve almost been killed three times, okay.”

–In a 2004 column, O’Reilly wrote: “Having survived a combat situation in Argentina during the Falklands war, I know that life-and-death decisions are made in a flash.”

Kurtz writes that in these statements “the dispute comes down to O’Reilly’s shorthand use of the Falklands and the term “war zone.” Huh? What on Earth does that mean? Is Kurtz excusing outright lies with the explanation that O’Reilly was using the lies as shorthand for the truth, and therefore it’s OK?

It’s clear from the statements that Kurtz himself referenced that O’Reilly had put himself “on the ground in active war zones,” and said that he was “there…in the Falklands,” and that he “survived a combat situation in Argentina.” Since there was no combat anywhere in Argentina other than on the Falkland Islands, O’Reilly is implying that that’s where he was. Which he wasn’t. He also was not in Argentina “during the Falklands war,” but arrived after it was over.

Kurtz ignored all of these obviously mis-factual statements in order to absolve O’Reilly of any guilt. Later Kurtz writes that “Corn’s own piece largely backs up O’Reilly’s account of the dangerous situation.” No, actually, it does not. Corn did point out that some of the statements O’Reilly made were corroborated by other accounts, but he never came close to dismissing the multiple assertions by O’Reilly (like those above) that were blatantly false.

In the end Kurtz attempted an awkward exoneration of O’Reilly by claiming that Corn’s reporting was “a far cry from a bogus claim of having been shot down in a helicopter.” How so? By any fair standard O’Reilly’s remarks that placed him in harm’s way on a battlefield (“almost been killed three times”) are at least three times worse than Williams’ mis-remembering of a single event.

News Corpse Presents: The ALL NEW 2nd volume of
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

O’Reilly’s lies are a repulsive attempt to exalt himself and his faux bravado. He has repeated these lies for decades in books, on television, and in personal appearances, and now, even after being caught, he refuses to apologize. If anyone deserves to be suspended for an extended period of time, it’s O’Reilly. But he has nothing to worry about on that score. Fox News has never acquitted itself in a respectable manner, particularly when it comes to journalistic integrity. They aren’t about to start now.

However, the stain O’Reilly leaves has now spread to Howard Kurtz, whose groveling and desperate defense is deceitful, unethical, and embarrassing. He should be suspended as well for aiding and abetting O’Reilly’s fraudulent fabrications. Of course, Kurtz will also escape accountability. It’s a perk that comes with working for Fox News. Unscrupulous dishonesty will never be a cause for punishment. At Fox News it is more likely to earn a promotion.

UPDATE: The festering ego we know as Bill O’Reilly came to his own rescue last night by devoting a chunk of his program to piling on more lies about his war reporting. He recruited his pals Bernie Goldberg and Geraldo Rivera as his character witnesses. Meanwhile, actual war correspondents are coming forward to criticize O’Reilly and veterans groups are calling for Fox News to take O’Reilly off the air:

VoteVets: “NBC acted completely appropriately in taking Brian Williams off the air and looking into claims he’s made over the years. Fox News has to do the same thing. […] Men and women have fought, died, been wounded, and scarred by war. There are many journalists who actually were in the crossfire, who died, trying to bring the story to the American people. What Bill O’Reilly has done is steal their valor, and it is wrong.”

Obama’s YouTube Interviewers Smeared By Fox News Host With Smaller Audience

On MediaBuzz, the Fox News program dedicated to reviewing the press, anchor Howard Kurtz took another opportunity to belittle President Obama and the YouTube personalities that interviewed him following the State of the Union Address. This is apparently a sore spot for conservative media dinosaurs like Kurtz who think that it is “beneath the dignity of the office to be hanging out with some of these YouTubers.” As noted in a previous article, the jealously and hypocrisy of the entrenched conventional media was exposed by their arrogant dismissal of a forward-thinking politician who recognizes the value in relating to a new generation of Americans on their own turf.

But Kurtz wasn’t finished. He took his criticisms to his own Sunday program to lay into the President and the YouTubers again. This time he focused on a distinction between the YouTube personalities and mainstream entertainment programs on television saying that he is “fine with Obama going on Ellen, The View, Colbert, but isn’t this sort of like the low-rent district?”

Howard Kurtz vs. YouTube

First of all, it wasn’t too long ago that going on shows like Ellen was looked down upon in the same way that Kurtz is demeaning YouTube. Bill Clinton’s appearance on Arsenio Hall was widely mocked by the dino-press. The same is true when politicians began to take cautious steps onto late night shows like Leno and Letterman. In most cases they still complain that such appearances trivialize the political guest.

Secondly, for Kurtz to insult the YouTubers as “low-rent” displays a giant, family-sized bag of chutzpah. His program on the journalistic wasteland of Fox News has an audience of about half a million viewers. Fox News Sunday, pulls in about 1.3 million. But the YouTube trio who sat with Obama last week reach a much bigger audience. Hank Green’s Vlogbrothers has a YouTube subscriber base of 2.4 million. The flamboyant Glozell draws 3.4 million. And Bethany Mota pulls in a whopping 8.1 million people. That’s about four times the viewers of Bill O’Reilly.

In Kurtz’s MediaBuzz segment he ran a brief video that featured only a few moments of fun or silliness, and he implied that they were representative of the whole of each interview. That is a deliberate and bald-faced lie. Many of the questions asked of the President were as substantive and probing as any that the more “professional” reporters would have asked. For instance…

  • Hank Green asked Obama whether the issues he raised in the State of the Union were politically feasible. He also asked whether Obama’s policy of drone strikes would be viewed in retrospect as a misuse of technology.
  • Glozell addressed the issue of police relations with African-Americans. She also imposed on Obama to justify his initiative to reinstate diplomatic relations with Cuba and the Castros.
  • Bethany Mota began with a question that many of her generation are struggling with, making education affordable. She continued with questions about the Nigerian terrorist group, Boko Haram, which has not been getting the media attention that ISIS does, even though they have been at times more lethal.

It would be difficult for Kurtz to honestly find fault with these lines of questioning without condemning his own colleagues who have asked many of the same types of questions. But instead he chose to air some laugh lines and pretend that’s all that occurred. And his panel was no better. Jonah Goldberg of the ultra-rightist National Review whined that Obama “only likes to talk to people who think he’s awesome.” That will come as some surprise to Fox’s Bill O’Reilly and Bret Baier, who have both interviewed Obama. Either Goldberg has early onset Alzheimer’s or he is purposefully misleading. As for examples of profound inquiries by Fox News reporters, this morning Chris Wallace asked Obama’s Chief of Staff if because of the election results in November “Doesn’t the President need to scale back his agenda to work with Republicans?”

Really? So the President should abandon his principles and capitulate to a party that won a majority in the lowest turnout election in 70 years? And when did Wallace ever ask Republicans to scale back their agenda in 2012 or 2008, after big Democratic victories? In fact, one of the first things Wallace said after the first inauguration of Obama was to question whether he was actually president because Chief Justice Roberts flubbed the oath of office. Then GOP senate leader Mitch McConnell declared that his top priority was to make Obama a one-term president. And Rush Limbaugh said “I hope he fails.” Apparently no agenda scaling back was necessary for the Republican losers.

Before Kurtz maligns others as being in a “low-rent district” he should assess the value of his own property. What he will find is a petty, biased, plot of fear mongering and racism. It’s a tract that Fox News has spent years developing.

Jealous Media Hacks Bash Obama’s YouTube Interviews (w/Video)

Anyone who doubts that the media has a powerful and influential impact on society and its forward progress is probably still trying to tune in radio broadcasts of The Lone Ranger. And part of recognizing that impact is paying attention to the ways that technology and evolving trends change how people interact with information.

The old guard is notoriously resistant to any disruption of their domain. So it is not surprising that staid, conventional media players are outraged and offended that President Obama has once again bucked their banalities to hobnob with more edgy communicators and reach out to a broader, more modern audience.

Obama YouTube Interviews

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Obama’s White House interviews with three YouTube stars is emblematic of the shift in media access. The lucky video hosts may not have journalism credentials, but they do have a refreshing sincerity and massive audiences. In fact, they reach more people than would be reached by traditional media. Hank Green’s Vlogbrothers has a YouTube subscriber base of 2.4 million. The flamboyant Glozell draws 3.4 million. And Bethany Mota pulls in a whopping 8.1 million people. That’s about four times the viewers of Bill O’Reilly on Fox News.

Nevertheless, the dinosaur newsers have been fairly unanimous in their condemnation of the President for granting these interviews. Fox’s media analyst, Howard Kurtz, called it “beneath the dignity of the office to be hanging out with some of these YouTubers.” Glenn Beck called it “truly obscene” and compared it to going on a burlesque show. The folks at RightScoop called their fellow vloggers “a bunch of idiot YouTube stars.” And just about everybody focused solely on Glozell, the most outrageous of the three inquisitors, virtually ignoring the substance of the questions overall.

Ever mindful of protecting their turf, many in the press complained that Obama was dodging “serious” reporters by staging these Internet affairs. They must have forgotten that he just did a full court press conference last month. And the questions asked at that event were no better than those asked by the YouTubers. To the contrary, the YouTube questions were often far more substantive and relevant to the lives of real people. What’s more, the biggest issue that emerged from last months press availability seemed to be the right-wing indignation over the fact that all of the reporters called on were women.

Another logical failing on the part of conservative critics is that despite their relentless harping about how the “lamestream” media is a useless and outdated institution populated by elitist, partisan, know-nothings, they bust cranial blood vessels when the President steps outside the bubble to dialogue with an alternative to the mainstream. Apparently they will only be satisfied if he agrees to sit down with Ann Coulter or Rush Limbaugh.

Get the ALL NEW 2nd volume of
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

Here is the White House video of all three YouTube interviews that has already been viewed more than 750,000 times.

Republican Intelligence Committee Report Blows Up The Benghazi Hoax [Updated]

The Republican-led House Intelligence Committee responsible for investigating Benghazi released its final report in a pre-Thanksgiving Friday news dump. Their conclusions debunked nearly every right-wing, Fox News, conservative fruitcake, conspiracy theory that has been circling the wingnut drain for the past two years.

Benghazi

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The Associated Press is reporting that the Committee’s findings absolve the administration of any wrongdoing. That includes the grossly unfair attacks on then-UN Ambassador Susan Rice, the allegations that military rescue units were told to “stand down,” and numerous assaults on Hillary Clinton’s character and management of the State Department. The House Committee report’s conclusions affirm those of the Senate Intelligence Committee who issued their own report on Benghazi nearly a year ago. The AP said in part…

“In the aftermath of the attacks, Republicans criticized the Obama administration and its then-secretary of state, Hillary Rodham Clinton, who is expected to run for president in 2016. People in and out of government have alleged that a CIA response team was ordered to ‘stand down’ after the State Department compound came under attack, that a military rescue was nixed, that officials intentionally downplayed the role of al-Qaida figures in the attack, and that Stevens and the CIA were involved in a secret operation to spirit weapons out of Libya and into the hands of Syrian rebels. None of that is true, according to the House Intelligence Committee report.”

Some of the flaws in the follow-up to the attack were identified by the committee as being the result of mistakes by “intelligence analysts, not political appointees.” This absolves both the Obama administration and Clinton, who Republicans were hoping to smear with false allegations connected to the Benghazi affair.

One area that received criticism in the report regarded whether adequate security was in place at the time of the attack. The report concluded that the facility was not well protected. However, it did not go into the fact that it was a diplomatic outpost, not a military base. Generally diplomatic facilities are designed to be open to the public and welcoming of local residents. A militaristic presence would defeat the purpose of the diplomatic mission. Consequently, the fine line between security and accessibility is often difficult to define.

The question now is whether the new House Select Committee on the Politicization of Benghazi that GOP Speaker John Boehner impaneled will continue its work. In order to do so they would have to presume that their colleagues on the Intelligence Committee screwed up. That would make for an interesting fight between fellow GOP chairmen Mike Rogers and Trey Gowdy. However, the new Committee, that was formed last May, hasn’t done much work and has held only one meeting in the six months since its creation. If it were to dissolve tomorrow it’s probable that nobody would notice. So while failing to uncover anything untoward, the GOP has spent millions of dollars struggling to create a controversy, but succeeded only in proving that they are utterly inept.

It will also be interesting to see if Fox News even bothers to report the conclusions of the Intelligence Committee. Fox has spent innumerable hours flailing Obama, Clinton, Rice, and anyone else they thought they could impugn with slanderous allegations for two years now. They have attacked people as liars, incompetents, even traitors, and called for the impeachment of President Obama. Never mind that they never had any evidence of any wrongdoing.

And now their own GOP inquisitors have given the administration a complete vindication. Will Fox News do a special hour report on “Benghazi: The Exoneration of the White House?” Not that that would compensate for the Benghazi fixation that has consumed Fox for so long. In addition to their relentless blanketing of the airwaves with Benghazi porn as a matter of routine, they have produced several special reports on the subject with hyperbolic titles such as…

  • Fox News Reporting: 13 Hours at Benghazi.
  • Fox News Reporting: Benghazi: White House Cover-Up Revealed?
  • Special Report Investigates: Death and Deceit in Benghazi.
  • Fox News Reporting: Benghazi: The Truth Behind the Smokescreen.
  • Special Report Investigates: Benghazi – New Revelations.

And nothing has come of any of it. When does Fox News broadcast a retraction and an apology to those whose reputations they have tarnished? When do they admit that it was all a partisan scheme to demean Democrats and help Republicans? When do the begin to honor their slogan “fair and balanced” by giving their viewers a more complete picture of reality?

Don’t waste too much time pondering the answers to those questions. Fox will never exhibit the integrity required to be legitimate journalists. They were conceived as a right-wing propaganda operation and they will remain faithful to that nefarious mission. Even as facts emerge, like those from the House Intelligence Committee, that prove they are flagrantly partisan and dishonest.

For more examples of Fox’s shamelessness…
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[Update:] Fox News posted an account of the House Intelligence Committees’s report on their website that was predictably biased. It failed to report any of the exonerating conclusions made by the GOP-led panel. Instead, it appeared under a misleading headline that read “CIA gathered intelligence on weapons to Syria: Benghazi report,” and focused on ancillary issues that were either not in contention or were the flawed product of intelligence analysts.

[Update: 11/22] Fox News finally mentioned the House Intel report on the air in a segment that lasted only 36 seconds and, true to form, they completely ignored the salient facts that exonerated the administration.

[Update: 11/23] On Fox’s MediaBuzz, host Howard Kurtz raised the question of whether the committee report received the amount of coverage that it warranted. He concluded that it did not.

“The House Intelligence Committee issued the results of a two year investigation of Benghazi and, among other things, the committee controlled by Republicans says that their was no intelligence failure. There was no stand-down order. There was no cover up by administration officials, or at least no intention to deceive. […] Given all the attention that Benghazi has gotten, including on this network, should that have gotten more coverage?

Also on the program was disgraced former CBS reporter Sharyl Attkisson who disagreed for some absurdly petty reasons.

“There were no answers, I think, to the great imponderables, which may be why it didn’t get more coverage. Like what was the President doing that night? Why can’t we see the White House photos. What happened to the surveillance video in Benghazi.”

First of all, all of those “imponderables” were previously pondered and answered. But more to the point, it is ridiculous to suggest that seeing photos from the White House, thousands of miles away from the scene, is more important than than correcting allegations of a cover up or debunking scurrilous conspiracy theories claiming that Americans were deliberately left behind to die. Attkisson, who wants to taken seriously as a journalist, is embarrassing herself again with a fixation on tabloid irrelevancies.

Glenn Beck’s Failing Health And Wealth Gets Treated By Fox News Spin Doctors

When Glenn Beck lost his perch on Fox News three years ago, his public profile shrunk considerably. He was no longer seen by a million addled viewers every day who clung worshipfully to his every utterance of apocalyptic doom. Yet he soldiered on promising to become “a thousand times more powerful” in whatever new venture he undertook. That was a promise he has not been able to keep.

As a result, he has resorted to literally begging his audience to subscribe to his Internet webcast, reaching out to investors he once swore off as limiting his free expression, and prostrating himself to the television gods hoping to regain access to their domain. It gives the title of his 2010 book a whole new meaning as to whether Beck himself is going broke.

Glenn Beck Going Broke

Beck’s recent confessional regarding his health problems has stirred a great deal of controversy from skeptics who regard the performance as a cynical ploy for attention and revenue enhancement. News Corpse addressed that skepticism with the observation that Beck had conveniently healed himself at the same time he announced the mystery malady. However, he also confirmed that throughout much of the time he was accused of saying crazy things he actually was (is?) crazy.

Enter Fox News to clean up the mess Beck created and put it all in a glowing light of blessed prosperity. Fox’s whoring media analyst, Howard Kurtz, brought in conservative shill Joe Concha to polish the story. Concha began by lionizing the woefully ailing Beck as a brave figure who is leading the “the humanization of opinion journalism” (whatever that means). He added that…

“Guys like [Mark] Levin, and [Rush] Limbaugh, and Glenn Beck – they’re humanizing this whole process as well. Think about what Glenn said when he made that statement. He said ‘You know what? This isn’t meant for the press. This is between you and me.'”

Note to Joe Concha: When someone posts a two hour video monologue, seated next to a long-suffering wife, while sobbing and praising God for a miraculous healing, that is not a personal message to a private audience. And if you think that Beck was not aware of the interest in this campy melodrama among members of the tabloid press, you really should get out of the media business.

Concha continued his defense of Beck by taking a cowardly swipe at Cenk Uygur, who he called “a former MSNBC host screaming to be relevant again,” but whose name he could not utter. Ironically, if anyone is screaming to be relevant again it’s Beck, but that was beyond Concha’s ability to comprehend. Instead, he criticized Uygur’s assertion that Beck was hyping a dubious illness in order to get back on television and make more money. Then Concha rattled off a list of mostly unverified accounts of Beck’s wealth. He sought to belittle Beck’s critics by smugly declaring that “Anybody who says he’s going bankrupt and he made up this whole thing because he doesn’t have a couple of dollars in his pocket doesn’t live in a reality that has Google, a calculator, and basic logic.” To which an obviously enchanted Kurtz responded “Alright, you’ve settled that question,” which, of course, he had not done.

To the contrary, it is Concha who has abandoned both logic and any understanding of basic economics. What’s missing from his Beck-fluffing analysis is that income is not the sole determinative component of net worth. You also need to factor in spending and debt. And by Beck’s own account he was bleeding money and needed to be rescued by either his loyal disciples, outside investors, or a return to television.

Beck has wailed plaintively in the recent past that “Already I’ve lost quite a tidy sum.” As a result he was forced to beg his disciples to increase his subscription base because “I thought I had time. I need your help.” That doesn’t sound like a healthy business enterprise. To be sure, he has spent heavily on a new television studio in the suburbs of Dallas. And he is allegedly bankrolling a film studio modeled after the Walt Disney organization, complete with high tech animation and effects facilities. He is also running retail businesses and stage presentations and publishing imprints. All of these activities have costs associated with them.

Beck does not disclose financial statements for himself or his businesses, so there is no way of knowing whether the mega-bucks he is reported to be pulling in cover his expenses. However, the debt he is compiling may be what led to his filing with the SEC seeking $40 million in funding for TheBlaze (As of 7/1/2014 he had only $6.4 million). This comes after he previously vowed to abstain from outside investors saying that…

“I do not want outside investors. We have talked about it. We have had outside investors come to us. We have had hedge funds come to us. People want to invest in my business because we are creating jobs and creating wealth. I do not want outside investors because I do not want to have to answer to anyone else.”

Apparently he wants them now. He also wants back on TV. He has been working furiously to get cable operators to carry his video blog. That in itself is an admission that the web business is failing. If he does get the cable carriage he longs for, that programming will be available for free to all of the current cable subscribers on the system. So why would anyone pay for the web programming? If the Internet subscription model was working for him, Beck wouldn’t risk cannibalizing his online customers by offering the same content for free on cable.

It’s clear that the hacks on Fox News haven’t taken these factors into consideration. Consequently, they mouth off on subjects about which they are totally ignorant. But then that’s how they got their jobs at Fox in the first place. Being ignorant, or at least willing to lie with a straight face, is a prerequisite for employment at Fox News. What else could explain Sean Hannity, Steve Doocy, Gretchen Carlson, Keith Ablow, and, of course, Joe Concha and Howard Kurtz?

The Media Needs To Stop Promoting ISIS Propaganda Videos – NOW!

Today there was a report of another horrific murder of an American Journalist. Steven Sotloff was the victim of a gruesome assault carried out by ISIS terrorists. And just as with the previous murder of James Foley, the media reacted by serving the interests of the terrorists by repeatedly showing pictures of the assault. Such a reaction has a disastrous effect. It is also egregiously hypocritical, but more on that later.

Media Inciting Violence

What needs to be mentioned with regard to these pictures is that they serve only one purpose. They were distributed by ISIS in order to advance their mission of terror. Their goal is to spread fear in the west and to promote recruitment to their cause among extremist Muslims. And like every other public relations campaign, the more the pictures and videos are shown, the better for ISIS.

The American media is providing free advertising for these cretins, and they must stop it. While it is reasonable to report on the brutality that is being engaged in throughout the Middle East, and particularly in Iraq and Syria, there is no useful purpose in blanketing the airwaves with images created by terrorists for their own benefit.

The murder of Sotloff is certainly a tragedy, but it is no more tragic than the hundreds, thousands, of others, many of them Americans, many of them journalists, whose names we were never told because they were killed in more “conventional” ways. The spectacular method of Sotloff’s execution wrenches our hearts, but leaves a corpse that is not one bit more dead. We have to stop assigning an artificial significance to the tactic, because that is exactly what the terrorists want us to do. Why are we accommodating them?

The United States has conducted hundreds of bombing missions against ISIS in the last few weeks, with over eighty yesterday alone. We have driven ISIS back from cities they boasted about capturing. These actions have resulted in the deaths and injuries of untold terrorist fighters. In response, the impotent whack jobs of ISIS choreograph a horror show that takes the life of a single man and we’re supposed to tremble with uncontrollable fright? Hell no. We continue to pursue our interests, bring aid to victims, and get on with our lives. It would probably be advantageous for President Obama to go golfing after every killing of this type that occurs. Don’t validate their tactics by reacting in precisely the way they hope.

It’s ironic that the media is so supportive of the ISIS PR effort. Not too long ago some of them were blasting reporters for going to Ferguson, Missouri to cover the shooting of an unarmed black teenager. In that case media critics like Howard Kurtz of Fox News asserted that “The journalistic invasion of Ferguson is absolutely inflaming the situation on the streets.” He wrote an editorial titled “What if we just pulled the plug on Ferguson?” that suggested the press should pack it in and leave town. Bill O’Reilly said much the same thing about coverage of another murdered teenager, Trayvon Martin, when he asked “Is the media now inciting racial violence?”

Isn’t it interesting that when the media is covering the murders of unarmed African-American kids they are accused of being accomplices to an escalation of hostilities, but when it comes to Americans executed by terrorists thousands of miles away, there is no similar implication of incitement even though that is the indisputable objective of the killers? The real question is: What if we just pulled the plug on ISIS?

Fox News inflaming Violence

There is a demonstrable purpose to reporting on the overly aggressive behavior of American police officers. Such publicity, and subsequent reform, can have an impact on their future behavior and improve relations between law enforcement and the public they are pledged to serve and protect. The same cannot be said of reporting, or more accurately advertising, the behavior of terrorists. We are not going to dissuade them from committing their crimes by publicizing them. Quite the contrary. They will only increase their deadly plots when they see the attention it brings them.

So the only way to react to these events is to acknowledge that they occurred and then stop obsessing over them. Then we can conduct our retaliatory response calmly and decisively. But by no means should we panic, tear out our hair, and give the enemy the impression (and satisfaction) that they have crushed our spirit and won a victory. They haven’t won a damn thing by exposing themselves as savages and taking the life of a single, innocent victim. Rather than helping to advance their PR, we should be publicizing their barbarism, impotence, and desperation. And a big part of that requires the media to refrain from furthering the marketing goals of the terrorists.

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Racist Guest On Fox News Is Offended That He Might Be Viewed As Racist

This weekend’s episode of MediaBuzz on Fox News featured a segment about the press coverage of the shooting death of Michael Brown, an unarmed teenager, by a Ferguson, MO police officer. Host Howard Kurtz booked Joe Concha, a conservative from Mediaite, and Keli Goff, a liberal from The Root, to debate the media’s performance during the aftermath of the shooting (video below).

Fox News

Concha immediately went into a defensive posture from the comfort of his TV studio. He took the side of law enforcement against the reporters who have been exposing the realities in the field, at great personal risk, where a militarized police department was harassing reporters and tormenting the residents they are sworn to serve.

Concha’s tirade began by condemning Wes Lowery, a Washington Post reporter who was arrested for doing his job. Concha accused Lowery of deliberately provoking the arrest and backed up his assertion by saying that Lowery’s media appearances afterward proved his self-interest.

Concha: “And here’s how you know that this was all about Wes Lowery expanding his television career. Right after he was released from custody, It was all about Tweeting out, calling Maddow Now (whatever that is), going on national television, went on CNN, MSNBC after that, Fox News as well. This was a media tour, Howie, that was only rivaled by Hillary Clinton’s. All in the effort to give Wes Lowery’s byline a microphone, a future career, and nothing more.”

Zing! Concha managed to slip in a slap at Hillary Clinton while defaming a reporter who is actually engaged in the practice of journalism, as opposed to Concha who is engaged in the practice of character assassination. And not even Kurtz would abide Concha’s slander and ignorance of the profession.

Kurtz: Alright, I think that’s unfair. Wes Lowery is a good, solid reporter. He was deluged with requests to appear on TV, including from me. He only did a few of those. I don’t think this was as self-promotional as you do.”

When a reporter is arrested while covering a news story with national prominence, that is in itself newsworthy. It is not proper or ethical for the police to target journalists in an effort to prevent them from gathering and providing information about matters of public interest. Apparently Concha thinks otherwise. Keli Goff eloquently explained why it so important to have reporters on the scene covering everything that occurs, including police misconduct.

Goff: “With all due respect to Joe, I would hate to hear the kind of criticism he would have doled out about fifty or sixty years ago to the reporters who may have been a little slow to pack up their gear when they were covering another crisis, which was known as the civil rights movement.

Goff correctly pointed out that there were a lot of reporters who were assaulted during the civil rights movement and that they risked their lives due to their commitment to keep the people informed. She described Concha’s criticism of Lowery’s efforts to record the police officers as bizarre. And she went further to say that it would be irresponsible to NOT record such activity.

Next Kurtz raised the question of whether the volume of coverage was exacerbating the tensions in Ferguson. Concha quickly agreed that the television networks and the Internet were “fueling the flames” and then focused his criticism on MSNBC’s Al Sharpton, who went to Ferguson to beseech the protesters to remain peaceful. Then Concha began an exchange that reveals much about what is wrong with television news coverage.

Concha: “The bottom line is that it is now a cottage industry when a white cop shoots a black kid. Or, we saw it with Trayvon Marin last year, CNN, HLN quadrupled their ratings because of these sort of events. And ISIS and Gaza is happening somewhere overseas. This is domestic. A cheap and easy narrative. And that’s why we’ve seen the coverage go where it has.”

Goff: You call it a cottage industry, those of us who have African-American men in our family consider it a crisis, Joe. It must be nice to have an experience in this country where you can dismiss it as simply coverage.”

Concha: “You don’t get to do that to me, Keli. You’re calling me a racist on national television?”

Huh? When exactly did Goff call Concha a racist? It is telling that Concha perceived this imaginary insult and used it to flip the whole segment to one where Goff was doing something to him. After belittling the significance of the shooting of Mike Brown, Concha is now the making himself the victim. This is where Kurtz jumped in to tell Concha that Goff had not called him a racist. Concha later apologized for “overreacting” with regard to the charge of racism, but he never apologized for the underlying remarks dismissing the shooting, disparaging the reporters covering it, and referring to coverage as “cheap and easy.”

It’s a good thing that Goff was there to counter the insensitivity and aversion to ethical journalism as represented by Concha. And it’s a good reminder of why it’s necessary to not only have journalists in the field who are devoted to informing the public, but to have them in the studio as well to smackdown jerkwads like Concha.

Shameless self-promotion…
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