Donald Trump has been boasting about his ability to create jobs despite never having explained exactly how he would do so. Well, now it appears he may have created one at CNN for the campaign manager that he fired just a few days ago.
Corey Lewandowski was escorted out of Trump Tower by security guards when the campaign decided that his services were no longer needed. He was criticized for the campaign’s negative and hostile tone, for failing to raise money, for not building a campaign infrastructure, and for infighting between various factions within the Trump camp. Recent polls showing Trump losing to Hillary Clinton also weighed on Lewandowski’s shoulders as he battled with the Trump kids and strategist Paul Manafort for control of the campaign.
Now CNN has rewarded Lewandowski with a job and a paycheck as a political commentator for the network. It’s not as if CNN didn’t already have a stable of partisan Trump sycophants on the air every day. Jeffery Lord, Scottie Nell Hughes, Kayleigh McEnany, among others have been shilling for Trump on CNN for months. And that’s in addition to the frequent appearances by Trump spokeswoman Katrina Pierson and Trump himself.
There are few, if any, examples of a news network scooping up a high-level campaign operative in the midst of an election, particularly one with the resume of Lewandowski. This is the first campaign that Lewandowski has ever managed, if you want to call it that. None of the traditional trappings of a campaign were evident in his work. He maintained a tiny staff of insiders and relied on free media for attention. He presided over a candidate who avoided substantive debate while resorting to childish insults and name-calling to bring down his opponents.
Lewandowski also had a terrible relationship with the press. While Trump was calling them sleazy and scum, and fantasizing about killing them them, Lewandowski was herding them into pens like cattle and threatening them if they were disobedient. He revoked the press credentials of people or organizations he didn’t like, including the Washington Post, BuzzFeed, the Huffington Post, Fusion, Univision, the Des Moines Register, and the New Hampshire Union Leader.
Lewandowski was the subject of an unprecedented meeting between the television news networks (including CNN) to address what they considered “harsh and restrictive behavior.” In one case Lewandowski told another campaign staffer “Hey: Tell Noah [Gray of CNN], get back in the pen or he’s f—ing blacklisted.”
And then there was the incident when Lewandowski was alleged to have physically assaulted a reporter from the conservative Breitbart News website. Michelle Fields claimed that Lewandowski had grabbed her by the arm and nearly threw her to the ground. He was briefly under indictment for the assault, but the authorities decided not to prosecute.
This is the caliber of man that CNN has just chosen to provide analysis of the election. He is overtly hostile to the press of which he is now becoming a part. His peers in the business are both stunned and outraged that CNN would grant this cretin one of a very few on-air positions available.
What’s worse, it is well known that Donald Trump requires his people to sign a nondisclosure agreement that prohibits them from saying anything negative about Trump, his businesses, or his family. So how can CNN justify hiring a commentator who is contractually bound to bite his tongue if anything unflattering to Trump occurs during the campaign? He’s a commentator who can’t comment. What does that say about a free press at CNN?
Perhaps in anticipation of a humiliating defeat in the presidential election, insiders in the Trump camp are talking about the possibility of Donald Trump trying to drag his glassy-eyed disciples from the musty arenas and airport hangers where he stages his rallies to the comfort of their own trailer parks. Vanity Fair is reporting that…
“Trump is indeed considering creating his own media business, built on the audience that has supported him thus far in his bid to become the next president of the United States. […] Trump’s rationale, according to this person, is that, ‘win or lose, we are onto something here. We’ve triggered a base of the population that hasn’t had a voice in a long time.'”
Make America Snooze Again
Donald Trump has distinguished himself as one of the worst businessmen of his generation. He has suffered multiple bankruptcies. He has underperformed the markets within which his companies operate. He is currently being sued for fraud. He couldn’t even manage to make money in the casino business. And this may be one of his worst ideas to date. What’s more, his incentive is wholly based on misplaced greed and his delusional narcissism:
“Trump, this person close to the matter suggests, has become irked by his ability to create revenue for other media organizations without being able to take a cut himself. Such a situation ‘brings him to the conclusion that he has the business acumen and the ratings for his own network.’ Trump has ‘gotten the bug,’ according to this person. ‘So now he wants to figure out if he can monetize it.'”
WTF? Does Trump think that if he started a cable network that he would be the star attraction 24 hours a day (without making America nauseous)? He’s fooling himself if he actually believes that his glowing orange presence is what drove the ratings during the Republican primary. The reason people were watching was the prospect of seeing him crumble to the floor in a fit, speaking in tongues, or otherwise implode on live TV. What could he provide on TrumpTV with that kind of perverse entertainment value.
Maybe Trump would produce his version of The 700 Club (of course it would have to be the 7,000,000,000 Club) where he would lecture his emotionally unstable viewers on how awful America is, and then try to sell them steaks, time shares, and worthless diplomas. He could give Alex Jones his own Conspiracy Theory Theater Hour and pair Ivanka and Ted Nugent as a bizarro Donny and Marie.
Even that would be bound for failure. Despite Trump’s ego, he does not have the broad based popularity to attract a television audience sufficient to support a network. Especially since his campaign has rebranded him as the nation’s foremost racist, misogynist, xenophobic, hate monger since Archie Bunker. His campaign supporters may seem numerous when you stuff a few thousand into a baseball stadium in Alabama, but in order to succeed in TV you need millions of viewers to tune in regularly. Will his fans do that to hear the same stump speech he has been rambling off for the past year?
And where will the advertisers come from? Trump has already seen some big corporations back away from any affiliation with him. Today there is a report that Wells Fargo, UPS, Motorola, JPMorgan Chase, Ford and Walgreens, have all opted not to sponsor the Republican National Convention this year, as they have in the past. Most companies do not want to be associated with demagogic bigots. Just ask Rush Limbaugh whose advertising revenue has collapsed to the point where it is threatening the continued existence of his radio show.
What Trump doesn’t know is that the cable business is a terrible investment right now for new enterprises. There is an over-saturation of channels struggling to get attention. The cable systems have no space for new channels. Trump would have buy an existing network to get any distribution. And people with far more adoring fans have had a tough time rolling out new networks. Oprah Winfrey is perfect example of one America’s most beloved figures whose cable venture is struggling. Glenn Beck can’t even get on most cable systems and is languishing in the web world. Sarah Palin has had three cable shows bite the dust, as well as her own effort to launch a web video service that lasted less than year.
The notion that America is hankering for Donald Trump to come into their living rooms is one that only an acutely deranged egotist could entertain. But it’s interesting that this boneheaded idea is bubbling up just as the general election is about to commence. It seems like Trump is not as certain of his ability to win at everything he tries as he wants people to think. Otherwise he wouldn’t be floating this fallback position before the campaign against Hillary Clinton has even gotten started.
The 2016 primary campaign for the Republican nomination for president has been accurately portrayed as a circus. It included seventeen candidates, most with little experience, but an abundance of ego, bluster, and a determination to divide the American people. The ringmaster of the show was Donald Trump, who was given the vast majority of media coverage virtually guaranteeing his victory.
Now a study by Harvard University’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politic, and Public Policy has certified conclusions that were fairly obvious even to casual observers. The study’s authors open with a summary of their findings:
>”The report shows that during the year 2015, major news outlets covered Donald Trump in a way that was unusual given his low initial polling numbers—a high volume of media coverage preceded Trump’s rise in the polls. Trump’s coverage was positive in tone—he received far more “good press” than “bad press.” The volume and tone of the coverage helped propel Trump to the top of Republican polls.”
The study notes that “media exposure is arguably the most important” indicator of success for primary contestants, and Trump received more than his fair share of it. What’s more, his coverage came despite the fact that he had not earned it by the conventional methods of attracting media attention for politicians: standing in the polls and fund raising. So why did the press lean over backwards to focus on Trump at a time when he plainly didn’t deserve it? According to the study:
“The answer is that journalists were behaving in their normal way. Although journalists play a political brokering role in presidential primaries, their decisions are driven by news values rather than political values. Journalists are attracted to the new, the unusual, the sensational—the type of story material that will catch and hold an audience’s attention. Trump fit that need as no other candidate in recent memory. Trump is arguably the first bona fide media-created presidential nominee.”
Donald Trump had bewitched the media with his celebrity from having hosted a TV game show for fourteen years. In addition to that he had a tendency to fly off the handle without notice. You could never be sure when he might start screaming the “N” word or slap an immigrant orphan across the face. He had that “train wreck” allure that the media craves but fails to acknowledge:
“Journalists seemed unmindful that they and not the electorate were Trump’s first audience. Trump exploited their lust for riveting stories. He didn’t have any other option. He had no constituency base and no claim to presidential credentials. […] The politics of outrage was his edge, and the press became his dependable if unwitting ally.”
The study found that the advertising equivalent value of the media coverage Trump received from the outlets they reviewed came to about $55 million. They acknowledge that this number was an underestimate of Trump’s total take if the rest of the media were included. In that case the number would be closer to two billion dollars. Also, this calculation only included coverage that was either positive or neutral. And on that measure the study found that “Across all the outlets, Trump’s coverage was roughly two-to-one favorable.”
Concurrent with the media infatuation for Trump, the nation’s press was taking a diametrically opposite stance toward the likely Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton. The study found that “Clinton had by far the most negative coverage of any candidate,” which drove the increase in her unfavorable poll ratings. She addressed this recently and was mocked for pointing out the obvious. But there was indeed an unmistakable bias that was evident across the board, and most prominently at Fox News (big surprise).
“Whereas media coverage helped build up Trump, it helped tear down Clinton. Trump’s positive coverage was the equivalent of millions of dollars in ad-buys in his favor, whereas Clinton’s negative coverage can be equated to millions of dollars in attack ads, with her on the receiving end. Of the eight news outlets in our study, Fox News easily led the way. Clinton received 291 negative reports on Fox, compared with only 39 positive ones, most of which were in the context of poll results that showed her with a wide lead.”
So the next time you hear someone complain that the media is liberal you’ll understand what a load of bull that is, and always has been. When the facts are compiled, and dispassionately examined, the truth is revealed. This study by Harvard should become mandatory reading for everyone in journalism school and, more importantly, everyone in journalism. And don’t forget the confession of Les Moonves, the CEO of CBS, who said of the Trump effect that “It may not be good for America, but it’s damn good for CBS.” That is where their loyalties lie.
The past couple of weeks has seen an ever-expanding exposition of brazenly dishonest reporting from Fox News star Bill O’Reilly. There are now at least five documented examples of his embellishing his own exploits in war zones and other “dangerous” assignments. His accounts have been refuted by both hard evidence and the testimony of his colleagues.
So how does O’Reilly respond to these charges that would severely damage his credibility if he had any? Well, after issuing some unsupported but emphatic denials, and threatening journalists covering the story, O’Reilly is now widening the battlefield and lashing out at his favorite target, the “liberal” media (video below).
On last night’s Factor O’Reilly presented a segment on “The Collapse of Liberal Media.” Of course, O’Reilly has done this before and has even declared the liberal media dead. So the fact that it is well enough to be collapsing is kind of an improvement in its condition.
O’Reilly began his rant by exalting himself (surprise) and his success in the ratings as compared to MSNBC. It’s true that Fox News has been the dominant player in cable ratings, but that is not a particularly groundbreaking revelation because it has been true for several years. So why is O’Reilly suddenly making a headline out of this worn out self-promotion? Could it have anything to do with his fury over being exposed as a pathological liar and his compulsion to seek revenge against his accusers?
The guest for the segment was O’Reilly pal and disgraced former CBS reporter, Bernie Goldberg. The first point Goldberg made was that in five of the last six presidential elections the more liberal candidate won the popular vote. Therefore, he surmised, that should have been helpful to liberal media. How he came to that conclusion is a mystery as there is no correlation between ratings and the political party of the White House. In fact, MSNBC’s best ratings were achieved during the Bush administration.
Goldberg went on to offer his list of the three reasons that MSNBC was is such dire straits. And they actually weren’t bad. Particularly the first reason which he said was the most important:
“Liberal news media violate the cardinal rule of all media. They’re not entertaining.”
That’s true. Fox News has redefined television journalism by fundamentally transforming it from an information medium to an entertainment medium. They dress up their pseudo-news segments in the same melodramatic packaging that entertainment outlets use: conflict, scandal, mystery, and hyper-charged emotions including hero worship and fear. Fox employs flashy graphics and attention-grabbing audio whooshes and gongs to decorate their reports that are presented as “ALERTS” regardless of the news value. And always there is sex. Fox’s roster of hosts has more former beauty pageant contestants than journalists. And they aren’t shy about putting their “talent” in revealing clothes and camera angles. In fact, Fox CEO Roger Ailes demands it. As for news, Fox’s concentration on tabloid thrill-fiction like Benghazi and Obama’s birth certificate is the news equivalent of porn.
This presents a dilemma to serious news enterprises that seek to carry out a mission to inform the public, but also need the public to watch. Fox News has gone out farthest on this limb and virtually abandoned the practice of ethical journalism. MSNBC and other networks need to find the proper balance.
Goldberg’s second reason was also surprisingly rational. He said that…
“People tune in to opinion journalism not so much to get information, but to get their own opinions validated by people on the air.”
Indeed. However, that isn’t something that explains MSNBC’s ratings or distinguishes them from Fox. There is no network that is more guilty of pandering to a partisan ideology than Fox News. So Goldgerg’s second reason only manages to accurately describe why Fox is so successful in corralling a loyal, uncritical audience.
On the other hand, his insight into MSNBC is way off base. He asserts that MSNBC fails because their politics are so far-left that they don’t validate the liberals in their target audience. Apparently Goldberg has never watched MSNBC. The notion that it is radically leftist could only be held by someone who is either unfamiliar with the network or utterly confused about liberal politics. Plus, he ignores the three hour morning block anchored by Joe Scarborough, a conservative Republican and former congressman.
The third reason Goldberg gave for MSNBC’s poor ratings is that “there are plenty of other places to get left-of-center information.” He’s right. And that is a key factor in Fox’s success. They have cornered the market for right-wing TV news. That means that viewers who want conservative slanted reporting will congregate at Fox, while all other viewers are dispersed across the dial, thus diluting the standings of any single network. So it isn’t that there are more conservatives watching TV, it’s just that they all watch one channel. Additionally, Goldberg conceded that Fox was designed from the start to be the right’s mouthpiece saying that…
“If you want to get conservative information on television, you do what Roger Ailes did. He found the niche, as he put it. Fifty percent of America.”
O’Reilly didn’t bother to object to Goldberg’s characterization of his boss or his network. Fox hardly ever tries to defend their fairness or balance any more. They now proudly regard their biases as a marketing feature to the wingnut demographic. But when the discussion turned to alternative sources for news, both O’Reilly and Goldberg slipped off the rails. They asserted that there were few places to find conservative views online. It makes you wonder which Internet they are using if they aren’t familiar with the Drudge Report, Glenn Beck’s TheBlaze, Breitbart News, the Daily Caller, National Review, WorldNetDaily, Townhall, Newsmax, and of course, their own fib factory Fox Nation.
On the flip side O’Reilly gave his impression of the left’s Internet presence in a rant that was loaded with his unique brand of animus and hostility. He was veritably frothing as he said that…
“There are some conservative websites, but the left-wing dominates the Internet. There are all these sleazy, slimy, far-left throwing it out. And that’s hurt the television industry.”
So O’Reilly and Goldberg don’t see any significant right-wing Internet sites, but the many left-wing sites they see are all slimy. How they are hurting television isn’t explained. In all likelihood, O’Reilly is covertly referencing his own problems with Internet sites like Mother Jones that have exposed his rank dishonesty. By telling the truth about him, O’Reilly believes that his Internet critics are destroying television. And, according to O’Reilly & Company, all of this is happening in an environment wherein it is the so-called liberal media that is collapsing. But how is a collapsing liberal media destroying the all-powerful conservative media?
O’Reilly really needs to make up his mind. Are liberals a dangerous cabal that are having a profound and negative effect on O’Reilly’s TV kingdom, or are they a band of weaklings who are struggling to keep from dissolving into the ether? Or is it a waste of time trying to figure out the hypocrisies that infect O’Reilly’s mind since the only thing that’s ever on it is what benefits him?
Last week a tsunami of shock washed over the Washington press corps as the second highest Republican in congress was swept overboard in a primary race against an unknown Tea Party opponent. Eric Cantor’s embarrassing loss has sparked debate as to how such a powerful GOP leader could have been caught looking. Unfortunately, the media contribution to the debate is rife with speculation and error.
First off all, the characterization of Cantor’s opponent, Dave Brat, as an outsider who sprung from the grassroots to slay Goliath is a reflection of the shallowness of the research conducted by the mainstream media. Thom Hartmann went deeper and discovered that Brat was on the radar of the billionaire Koch brothers long before he launched his allegedly underdog campaign. Koch-affiliated financiers endowed Randolph-Macon College with half a million dollars to seat the Ayn Rand disciple as a trickle-down economics professor. Then, when the campaign commenced, radio talk show hosts like Laura Ingraham and Mark Levin took the baton and fervently promoted Brat’s candidacy. Ingraham and Levin are just a couple of the radio talkers who are sponsored by Koch front groups like Americans for Prosperity.
This brings us to the second point. The media repeatedly cast a spotlight on the campaign spending differential between Cantor and Brat. Cantor raised more than $5,000,000 compared to Brat’s $200,000. Many reporters latched onto the amusing anecdote that Cantor spent more on steak dinners than Brat spent in total. However, what they failed to take into consideration was the value of the airtime contributed by the likes of Ingraham, Levin, Beck, Limbaugh, Fox News, et al. It could cost a couple of hundred dollars for a thirty second spot on a high performing radio program. Extrapolate that to twenty or thirty minutes of direct advocacy by the the program’s host every day for a month or two and you could easily have exceeded Cantor’s budget for broadcast advertising.
Adding in the value of the donated airtime rips apart the third fallacy peddled in the press – that Brat’s low cost campaign disproves the contention that money makes the difference in elections. This is a target that has been in the sights of conservatives since the Citizen’s United debacle in the Supreme Court. The rush to exonerate wealthy donors of having any untoward impact on electoral outcomes was head-spinning. Every right-wing pundit with a microphone hailed the demise of the theory that cash-laden campaigns had an unfair advantage. In truth, Brat’s campaign was far richer than acknowledged due to the media support detailed above. But even if there were no other factors, a win by a single candidate in one race surely doesn’t negate the fact that in 99.99% of other races the better financed candidate prevails. If the right is so convinced that Brat’s showing proves that money doesn’t matter, I dare any of them to announce that they are halting their fundraising and capping their spending at $200,000.
Fourth: Tea Party supporters were quick to jump on Brat’s win as evidence of a Tea Party resurgence. In just about every other race this cycle, the Tea Party challenger lost to an establishment incumbent. With Brat’s resounding victory, they claim to have regained their mojo. But the only way they can make that argument is if they forget that they lost just about every other race this cycle.
Finally, the Washington set is dead certain that Brat’s triumph was due to his stance against immigration. After all, he did feature it in his campaign ads and it was a point of departure between him and Cantor. Unfortunately for those who seem to have a desperate yearning for that to be true, polling on the day of the election proved otherwise. Public Policy Polling released the survey showing that “72 percent of registered voters in Cantor’s district polled on Tuesday said they either ‘strongly’ or ‘somewhat’ support immigration reform.” And the anti-immigration forces conveniently ignore the fact that on the same day Sen. Lindsey Graham, an establishment, pro-immigration candidate, from an even more conservative state, handily dispatched a slew of Tea Partiers. More likely, the problem for Cantor was that he mustered only a 43% job performance approval, just a couple points off of his losing election results.
So Dave Brat won a peculiar contest in Virginia where he had hidden support from billionaires and an opponent who was widely disliked. Then he disappears and refuses to speak to the voters he hopes will be his constituents. It’s been three days and he hasn’t held a post election press conference. And yet the press continues to misrepresent the realities that produced the results of this election. It’s a state of affairs that proves that Cantor wasn’t the only loser last week. The voters and others who rely on the media to provide useful information and analysis also lost. But they should be used to that by now.
Sun TV is a rabidly right-wing cable network in Canada that has been compared to Fox News. However, Canadians do not seem to be as gullible as America’s Teabaggers and are not tuning in. From the Hollywood Reporter:
“To get Sun News back on its feet, the Quebec media giant is asking for a mandatory distribution order from the CRTC. That would force the all-news channel on Canadians by ensuring carriage on all domestic analog and digital basic services.”
Mandatory distribution? Sounds like socialism! The level of hypocrisy required for a conservative network to beg the government to force private companies into doing business with them is off the scale. What ever happened to the free market? It appears that Canadian viewers have made their choice, but Sun isn’t satisfied and wants to shove their programming down the throats of viewers who don’t want it. In the process they would compel cable operators to pay them fees against their will.
Just imagine how conservatives would react if MSNBC tried to do the same thing. They are presently carried on fewer cable services than Fox, and where they are carried they are often relegated to higher tier packages while Fox is on the basic tier.
This is a brilliant example of the right-wing hypocrisy that condemns welfare when it is provided to low-income Americans who are struggling to get by, but supports welfare for wealthy corporations in the form of subsidies and tax relief. They reject government if it serves the people. They embrace it when it serves the rich.
The World Wide Web is a cornucopia of Olympian ignoramusi. The field ranges from hollowed out heads in suits like Jonah Goldberg, to asylum escapees like Ted Nugent, to pitiful has-been bimbos like Victoria Jackson, to messianic delusionaries like Glenn Beck. With such an abundance of talentless charlatans like these posting staggeringly asinine missives online, the competition for Most Epically Idiotic Article On The Internet is stiffer than Mitt Romney at a gay bar four hours after overdosing on a bad batch of Viagra.
Leave it to Breitbart’s John Nolte to sink to the occasion and compose a work of astonishing stupidity. The title of Nolte’s opus, “Why the Media Hates and Fears Super PACs,” pretty much gives away the fundamental foolishness of his premise. The media is perhaps the biggest beneficiary of Super PACS (more on that later). But foolishness is the hallmark of Nolte’s career. Take for example this article wherein Nolte advocated murdering the mother of a young actress:
Breitbrat Nolte begins his incoherent rant with a typical bashing of the press as liberal, despite all the evidence to the contrary. With no substantiation whatsoever, he called the media “a gaggle of left-wing operatives disguised as journalists.” Nolte goes on to assert that the media fears the Citizens United decision handed down by the Supreme Court because the media is in the business of the “furthering of leftist causes.” Notice how he refers to the media as a single-minded entity shuddering frightfully at the thought of Citizens United. He makes no effort to document that assertion. But finally, Nolte gets around to what he regards as the core of the problem:
“[T]he media is objecting to free and unlimited political speech – the very thing protected by the very first Amendment. The media’s outrage that there are now no longer restrictions on how much money a company or individual can spend to further a political cause, is the same as expressing outrage that that most sacred of American rights – unlimited political speech – is no longer limited by a tyrannical government.”
Of course. The media is “outraged” that individuals and corporations can now spend unlimited amounts of money on ….. MEDIA! Where does Nolte think that the hundreds of millions of dollars that he concedes will be raised and spent is going to go? By far, the biggest share of that bounty will be spent on advertising in the media. The very same media that Nolte refers to as an amorphous singularity that is united in opposition to Super PACs. So obviously the media is beside themselves with rage. Their secret plot to advance socialism is way more important to them than the windfall in unprecedented profits. Anyone can see that.
Well, anyone that suffers from the same moronic myopia of Breitbrat Nolte, whose grasp of the particulars of the Citizens United decision is utterly confused. Nolte does not seem to understand that the decision opened the funding floodgates to allow unprecedented levels of unaccountable contributions that are tantamount to giving wealthy individuals and corporations permission to buy election outcomes. He describes it as a “First Amendment victory,” but it is a victory for dollars, not for voters. It changes the dimensions of democracy from “one man, one vote,” to “one dollar, one vote,” because now free speech comes with a price tag that only the wealthy can afford. How can the average citizen’s voice be heard when it is competing with Exxon or Karl Rove’s American Crossroads?
Nolte’s whining that the media has been enforcing a liberal tyranny over the nation and is enraged by new competition from the Super PACs created by Citizens United ignores the fact that the media themselves are participants in the rush to exploit the Super PAC phenomenon. Every major media corporation (Time Warner, General Electric, Comcast, Viacom, Disney, News Corp) already has their own. And they are spending heavily to advance their interests over those of the people. But Nolte has trouble with the concept of facts to begin with, as is apparent in this example from his article:
“Fact : In 2008, you heard almost no media outcry against all of that ‘outside money affecting elections.’ Today, that’s all you hear, especially after a Republican victory like the one last week in Wisconsin.
First of all, Nolte needs a remedial course in identifying facts. He cannot assert as fact that “you” heard nothing in 2008 about outside money. How could he know what you heard? Secondly, his main point as to the “media outcry” on campaign finance completely ignores that actual fact that fundraising by independent groups has long been a huge topic of discussion. It resulted in the passage of the McCain–Feingold Act in 2002 that put restrictions on certain types of contributions and spending. That act was still in effect in 2008, but was largely overturned in 2010 by Citizens United. If Nolte didn’t hear people talking about outside money in 2008, it’s because his ears were stuffed with right-wing bias and the smears and tangential trivialities that he helped to promulgate (i.e. Rev. Wright, Anthony Weiner).
Nolte makes an extraordinary leap in logic to assert that media companies are de facto Super PACs and that they have always been “allowed to spend unlimited amounts of money to push a political agenda.” But Nolte is not talking about any actual PAC activity. He is asserting the premise that any money spent collecting or reporting news is identical to spending for political advocacy. That’s because Nolte believes that all news is the work of the left-wing gaggle mentioned above. He writes that everyone from the Today Show to Saturday Night Live are “shill[s] for leftist causes.” Therefore, he sees the advent of Citizens United as a leveling mechanism.
“Thanks to ‘Citizens United,’ though, what you now have are mainstream media corporations forced to compete on a level playing field with other individuals and corporations, who can now spend as much money as MSNBC and Politico and The Washington Post, etc. to affect the outcomes of our nation’s politics.
“And this is why the media so loathes ‘Citizens United’ and those beautiful super PACs that have blossomed as a result.”
And therein lies the heart of Nolte’s Epic Idiocy. He actually sees Super PACs as “beautiful,” a blossoming bouquet of wholesome, corporate goodness. In fact, he veritably tingles at the thought of corporations being able to affect the outcomes of elections. Who wouldn’t want corporations – soulless entities whose only purpose is to increase shareholder wealth – to decide everything from how are children are taught, to the state of our environment, to Wall Street regulatory policy, to when, and with whom, we go to war? Nolte’s lust for allowing unaccountable corporations to assume control over the most profoundly personal aspects of our lives is downright perverse. It is also a nearly textbook definition of fascism.
And it’s a perversion rooted in ignorance because the backbone of his thesis is utterly false. It should come as no surprise that a web site called “News Corpse” is not suffering from a naive affinity for the press. But the stated mission of this site recognizes that the problem with the media is that it has evolved into an incestuous family of a few giant corporations whose interests lean more toward their own welfare than the welfare of the public they serve or the nation that protects their independence. The problem with the media is that it IS composed of giant, multinational corporations that exploit their market power and their influence over government.
It is difficult to comprehend how Nolte can harbor such a schizophrenic viewpoint wherein he worships corporations, but despises the media which are, in fact, corporations. He makes no sense in castigating the whole of the media for bitterly opposing Super PACs (for which he provides no evidence), even while they have formed their own and are projected to earn billions of dollars from the advertising headed their way. His opinion can only be described as twisted by a paranoid neurosis that prevents him from observing reality as it is.
It is that blindness that has created a monumental obstacle to rationality and earns Breitbart’s John Nolte the award for the Most Epically Idiotic Article On The Internet. And due to his puerile dimwittedness and cognitive ineptitude, this will surely not be the last time he will be so (dis)honored.
The state of contemporary journalism is widely regarded as defective by consumers and critics representing a broad diversity of opinion. It seems that the media has no constituency defending its professional lethargy and its reliance on sensationalism and melodrama.
The past few weeks have provided comprehensive instructions on how to be an utterly frivolous and ineffective news industry. When Americans are desperate for information about pressing issues concerning jobs, the economy, health and Medicare, and national security, they are left wanting as the major news enterprises dump loads of salacious gossip, celebrity gaffes, and lurid tales of criminal miscreants. Just trying to be heard over the caterwaul of crapola that passes for news is an Olympian feat. If it isn’t a lewd lawmaker (Anthony Weiner) flooding the airwaves, it’s a murderous mom (Casey Anthony), one of thousands of murderers, but the only one that seems to garner any attention.
Recent surveys have shown that the media is not covering the issues that the people are most interested in. The audience has made its preference clear: they want substance, not sleaze. But the media tone-deafness was demonstrated exquisitely when all three cable news networks cut away from Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic Leader of the House of Representatives, after she informed them that she would only be addressing questions regarding jobs and the economy, and not Rep. Weiner. As is becoming routine, a non-news personality summed it up best by playing a video clip of CNN’s Wolf Blitzer expressing his reluctance to cover the titillating trivialities of the day:
Wolf Blitzer: We’ve covered these kinds of stories, It’s not a pleasure for us. It’s not something we look forward to. I’d much rather be discussing economic issues, jobs, the future of Medicare, national security issues, than talking about this.
Jon Stewart:[Incredulously] What’s stopping you?!
In an effort to enhance the public’s access to the stories that actually impact their lives, I am offering this tutorial on how to get appropriate coverage of the critical matters that face our nation. It is not enough to be brilliantly articulate about a position or to make a coherent case for a policy. You must grab the attention away from the media whores and their enablers in the press corps. Here is how to do just that in a handy shareable infographic guide:
The Federal Communications Commission has granted the Tribune Company the waiver it sought to continue operating the newspapers and television stations it owns in the same market. The waiver is required due to a regulation that forbids such cross-ownership. But the decision that produced the waiver was Machiavellian in the extreme.
Rather than grant the waiver outright, FCC chair Kevin Martin and his Republican colleagues actually denied Tribune’s request for an indefinite waiver, while granting a permanent waiver for Tribune’s properties in Chicago. This scheme allows Tribune to move forward with its acquisition by Chicago real estate mogul Sam Zell without jeopardizing its present newspaper and TV operations. It also allows Tribune to challenge the indefinite waiver denial in court, which itself triggers a two year waiver for all of Tribune’s properties in five markets nationwide. Democratic Commissioner Michael Copps dissented from this opinion saying:
“If this order were a newspaper, the banner headline would read ‘FCC majority uses legal subterfuge to push for total elimination of cross-ownership ban.’ I have to admit, part of me admires the clever legal maneuvering […] Tribune gets at least a two-year waiver, plus the ability to go to court immediately and see if they can get the entire rule thrown out.”
Tribune filed court papers objecting to the FCC decision within days of its issuance, almost as if they were prepared in advance of the decision. What a surprise. And all of this is occurring as Martin is being scrutinized by Congress for alleged abuse of power. Energy and Commerce Committee chairman John Dingell expressed concern that the FCC had not made drafts of proposed rules available to the public before they were voted on, and that Martin routinely withheld details of proposals from other commissioners until it was too late for them to be fully analyzed. In addition, Martin has favored data from outside firms that support his biases even when that data was contradicted by the agency’s own statistics.
Martin is as corrupt in his role as his predecessor, Michael Powell. In case after case he has advocated for the interests of Big Media over the public interest. And he now shows that he is unconcerned with maintaining even the perception of propriety.
A little over a year ago I wrote this article wrapping up the 2006 campaign season and showing how, no matter who wins electoral campaigns, the media is the ultimate winner:
“When all is said and done, The Media will have banked over $2 Billion […] If a campaign can be analogized to a war, then the media are the war profiteers. Fox is the Halliburton of the press corps – GE (owner of NBC/Universal) is the…well, the GE. They benefit no matter who wins or loses. In fact, it is in their interest to incite division and to escalate the conflict.”
At the time, the money raked in by media was a new record, but one that was destined to be short-lived. A new study by PQ Media is predicting that spending for 2008 will dwarf the record set in 2006:
“Political campaign spending on advertising media and marketing services is expected to rocket to an all-time high of $4.50 billion in the 2008 election cycle, as an acrimonious political environment, record fundraising and the high number of presidential candidates are driving an unprecedented media spending splurge…”
There doesn’t seem to be an end in sight for the profligate spending on political ads and events. These expenditures are sponsored, for the most part, by mega-corporations with interests in the outcome of the elections. The Center for Responsive Politics just completed a detailed study of lobbyist contributions in the current campaign cycle. It’s an eye opening expose of the incestuous relationships between candidates and contributors. For instance, Hillary Clinton claimed in a recent debate that she accepts lobbyist funds because they represent “real Americans” like nurses and social workers. But her financial disclosures reveal a different story:
“Lobbyists who represent health professionals, including the nurses Clinton singled out, account for $82,805 in contributions to her, while those representing the pharmaceutical industry paid out $562,900.”
Barack Obama looks a little better having received only $34,500 from 29 registered lobbyists. And John Edwards does even better than that with just $4,500 from seven lobbyists that he has promised to return.
The irony is that many of the large corporate givers are the media companies themselves. Unlike other donors, they will get much of that money back from candidates buying air time. In effect, the candidates are subsidizing the media companies’ budget for campaign contributions. Then, after the election, the media lobbyists still get to call on the officeholders to collect their reward in the form of favorable legislation and regulations.
As I said last year, the media is the only guaranteed winner and the people (and democracy) suffer for it:
“So long as we have corporate media monopolies married to political powerbrokers in government and on K Street, we will never have truly free elections. They just feed off of each other and enrich each other at the expense of democracy. The media needs to be corralled into a role wherein it educates and informs citizens. And public financing of campaigns is imperative if we want to remove the influence of corporations from politics.”