Why Vladimir Putin Should Be Time’s Person Of The Year Instead Of Donald Trump

On Wednesday morning Time Magazine revealed their Person of the Year (POY) for 2016. Not surprisingly, they chose Donald Trump. He was certainly a fixture in the media for eighteen nauseating months and dominated much of the political discourse. However, by Time’s own criteria for selecting their annual cover story, Trump may not have been the most appropriate choice.

Trump Person of the Year

Time defines the POY as “the person who most influenced the news, for better or for worse.” It is not necessarily, as Trump described it upon hearing of his selection, “a great honor.” In fact, it can be an outright disgrace as illustrated by some past selections like Stalin and the Ayatollah Khomeini. In Trump’s case, his selection may be more along those lines.

Nancy Gibbs, Editor-in-Chief of Time, says of Trump’s selection that “There is a profound argument about whether his influence was for the better or for the worse.” And Time’s article profiling him also addressed some of the darker aspects of his character:

“For all of Trump’s public life, tastemakers and intellectuals have dismissed him as a vulgarian and carnival barker. A showman with big flash and little substance. […]

“Instead of painting a bright vision for a unified future, he magnified the divisions of the present, inspiring new levels of anger and fear within his country. […]

[H]e proved that tribal instincts never die. That in times of economic strife and breakneck social change, a charismatic leader could still find the enemy within and rally the masses to his side.”

Indeed, Trump embraced an unprecedented reliance on division and scapegoating. His “us vs. them” tactics appealed to a nervous populous that fears the unavoidable demographic changes that are in progress. But does any of that justify his selection as Time’s Person of the Year? Did he really have more influence on the news than anyone else?

While Trump did seem to be on an endless loop across every news network, he can’t be given credit for that exposure. The cable news broadcasters voluntarily donated their airtime to Trump. They covered his stump speeches live and uninterrupted for hours on end. They allowed him to conduct phone interviews where he was rarely challenged or held accountable for his remarks. It wasn’t so much a matter of him influencing the news as the news exploiting his unpredictability for ratings.

But there is an even better argument for why Trump did not earn this POY selection. Much of the noise surrounding his campaign was generated by somebody else. Working behind the scenes, Russian President Vladimir Putin was responsible for influencing the news throughout the election year. His interference in American politics was pronounced and frightening. And all of it was aimed at electing Donald Trump. For instance:

Hacking the Democratic National Committee:
The first stirrings of Russian operatives in the U.S. election process came during the Democratic convention in July. The DNC email system was hacked into and private communications stolen from it were published. For some reason the media found it acceptable to make these private documents public. Remember, these were not government documents that the public has a right to know about.

Hacking Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s email:
The email account of Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman was also hacked. Again, this was private information that the media made public at the behest of Russian agents. While there was no wrongdoing revealed in these emails, there were things that partisan politicos could exploit and put a negative spin on. They succeeded in turning a huge portion of the campaign into a debate over emails that ultimately proved nothing.

Wikileaks support:
The Russian hackers delivered their stolen data to Wikileaks for distribution. From there Wikileaks released thirty-six separate batches of Clinton’s email. They deliberately strung it out over time in a manner designed to have the most detrimental effect on her campaign. Occasionally they would release a batch timed to a damaging news story about Trump in order to divert the media attention to Clinton and away from Trump.

Hacking voting systems in several states:
Reports of these efforts were the most direct intrusions into actual election processes. Hackers working on behalf of the Russian government are suspected in the onslaught against more than 20 state election systems

Spreading pro-Trump fake news:
The Washington Post reported that “The flood of ‘fake news’ this election season got support from a sophisticated Russian propaganda campaign that created and spread misleading articles online with the goal of punishing Democrat Hillary Clinton, helping Republican Donald Trump and undermining faith in American democracy.” The epidemic of fake news actually outperformed news from more conventional and reliable sources.

The incidents outlined above arguably resulted in the bulk of media attention throughout the election year. They drove the media narrative and spurred the production of additional stories. Trump himself relied on the information stolen by Russians for much of his campaign rhetoric.

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

Consequently, Trump was a secondary factor in the influence of news events in 2016. It was Vladimir Putin who was actually steering the events that dominated the news. Putin and his agents succeeded in manipulating both the American press and the American political system. He got his man into the White House. And Trump was nothing but a prop on a much larger and more perilous stage. He is more worthy of being named Puppet of the Year.

TRUMP: I’d Tweet Less If Media Covered Me Accurately – TWITTER: Yeah, Right

Donald Trump’s war with the media has been one of the most disturbing aspects of the 2016 presidential cycle. While other politicians have wrestled with the press, there has never been the sort of viciousness exhibited by Trump. He calls them liars, sleazy, losers, dummies, and other childish insults. He has revoked the press credentials of outlets that weren’t sufficiently adoring. The Committee to Protect Journalists cited Trump as “an unprecedented threat” to press freedom.

Trump Baby

Since Election Day four weeks ago Trump has refused to hold a press conference. That’s longer than any president-elect in forty years. In fact, Trump hasn’t held a press conference since July. And he has plenty of reasons for avoiding the media. Nevertheless, he continues to lash out in ever more ridiculous ways. Take for instance his tweet on Monday:

So Trump is essentially admitting that he only tweets because he isn’t satisfied with the coverage he gets from the media that he is avoiding. That complaint might be taken more seriously if his tweets ever addressed a substantive issue. More often than not they are just self-serving promotions, egotistical bragging, or baseless attacks. And that’s when they aren’t idiotic comments that advance conspiracy theories or risk international crises.

After posting that tweet, the community on Twitter was quick to respond with cogent smack downs. The twitterverse does not sit idly by when confronted with smarmy bullshit. What follows are a few of the choice responses:

It’s not likely that Trump will entertain the common sense in these replies. He’s too busy avoiding national security briefings and tweeting about how unfunny Saturday Night Live is. Trump’s obsession with the treatment he receives from the press symbolizes the inward focus of our Narcissist-in-Chief. Every president experiences what they regard as harsh reviews, but most do so without becoming such petulant crybabies. Despite his protests, the media is covering him accurately and fairly, for the most part. It’s not their fault he’s such an embarrassment to the nation.

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

Is There An ‘Obama TV’ Network In The President’s Future?

The media has been appropriately focusing on Donald Trump’s transition activities and its unending string of embarrassing and dangerous flubs. In the meantime, little has been said about what President Obama plans to do after he leaves the White House. Former presidents take different paths in retirement from government service. Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter went deep into charitable work. The Bushes merely slipped into near reclusive anonymity. And they all have libraries to promote.

Obama

However, President Obama is a unique figure in American history. He is, of course, the first African-American president. But he is also a pioneer in the age of digital media. He beat Donald Trump to social media and embraced its benefits without making an ass of himself. Combine that spirit of innovation and his natural communication skills and a prospective future in media seems plausible.

That’s exactly what is being speculated about by people in the Obama sphere. Jake Horowitz of Mic is reporting that:

“President Barack Obama has been discussing a post-presidential career in digital media and is considering launching his own media company, according to multiple sources who spoke on background because they were not authorized to speak for the president.

Obama considers media to be a central focus of his next chapter, these sources say, though exactly what form that will take — a show streaming on Netflix, a web series on a comedy site or something else — remains unclear. Obama has gone so far as to discuss launching his own media company, according to one source with knowledge of the matter.”

The article is careful not to introduce too much hype. Horowitz notes that some sources are downplaying the possibility. Also, the White House says that Obama “has no plans to get into the media business after he leaves office.” Such denials are to be expected and they haven’t quelled the background noise circulating around the idea. There is even talk about a relationship with Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg who met with Obama recently in Peru.

Obama may be the most media-focused president in history. He frequently comments on the state of the media and offers insightful criticism. In a recent interview with Rolling Stone he observed that:

“I’ve got the majority on my side, and a healthy majority on my side. The problem is, we’ve got all these filters. Look, if I watched Fox News, I probably wouldn’t vote for me either. Because you’ve got this screen, this funhouse mirror, through which people are receiving their information. How to break through that is a real challenge.

And that:

“I think the question I’d have when it comes to the media is, ‘How do we create a space where the truth gets eyeballs and is entertaining,’ and we can build a common conversation.”

Truth has been the big casualty in the 2016 presidential campaign. We have a president-elect who has accumulated the longest list of provable lies of any other candidate on record. And the outbreak of fake news has become a defining characteristic of social media. It’s impact on the election is difficult to quantify, but studies show that it was far more prevalent among conservatives. Also, there is no doubt that foreign operatives (i.e. Russia) have been instrumental in its distribution.

Fox News, of course, is an ever-present stain on journalism. They have made it their mission to relentlessly attack the President and anything remotely progressive. Simultaneously, they steadfastly promote right-wing politicians and policies. What’s more, they virtually created Donald Trump with the gift of billions of dollars of free airtime.

Prior to the election, when it appeared that Trump would lose, there was speculation that he would might launch a media venture. There were several good reasons why that would fail miserably. However, Obama could have better odds in a difficult marketplace. He is near the top of his popularity as he approaches the end of his term. And his wide network of politicos and celebrities could shape an appealing roster of programming.

One thing is certain: the media is in dire need of a fundamental transformation. It needs to abandon the tabloid sensationalism and conflict model of news. Respect for facts, as opposed to symbolic balance and false equivalencies, needs to be reinforced.

The press is the only profession identified by name in the Constitution. That’s because the framers knew that democracy is unworkable without an informed electorate. What we have now is a vastly disinformed electorate. If Obama were to enter the media with the intention of resolving that problem it could be a more important part of his legacy than the presidency.

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

Here’s a preview of what Obama TV might look like (courtesy of The Colbert Report):

SO F*CKING WHAT? Trump Tweets That He’ll Hand Business Over To His Fully Conflicted Kids

America’s Robber Baron-Elect, Donald Trump, disgorged himself on Twitter again in a pre-dawn diatribe. This one sought to allay the fears of his extensive conflicts of interest by repeating his prior insufficient explanations.

Donald Trump

Here are the tweets he fired off in his sleepless rant:

Once again, he seems to think that handing his businesses off to his kids removes the potential for corruption. All it does is appoints his kids as the executors of his worldwide graft and bribery operations. He still has complete knowledge of his assets and what government measures would benefit them. Family members cannot be characterized as a “blind trust” and most of his properties around the world have his name plastered on them in gold.

Trump’s Washington, D.C. hotel is already playing host to foreign dignitaries. These guests have admitted that they booked the venue to ingratiate themselves to the President-elect. Consequently, Trump could be in violation of the Constitution’s emoluments clause immediately after taking the oath of office.

Trump casually asserts that he is not mandated by law to divest himself, but that’s not what the Constitution says. He further states that it is only “visually important” to avoid conflicts of interest. Actually avoiding them doesn’t appear to be on his agenda. That suggests that if he can effectively hide his crookedness it would be OK. If he really believes that the presidency is “a far more important task” than his real estate ventures, then why won’t he divest?

There is, perhaps, something more significant in his tweets than the old news that he is promoting his Trumpkins. That’s the announcement that he will hold a press conference on December 15, to address the subject. Trump has not held a press conference in the three weeks since Election Day. That’s the longest period a president-elect has gone without a post-election press conference in forty years. But it’s even worse than that because he hasn’t had a formal press conference at all since July. In fact, with only four exceptions, he hasn’t been interviewed on a non-Fox News outlet in nearly six months. This was so egregious that Fox News even reported it.

It’s not for lack of newsworthy discussion topics. By avoiding the press Trump has evaded questions on serious issues that impact the nation. For instance, an election that is tainted by allegations of voter suppression and his loss of the popular vote. At least a dozen women who are charging him with sexual assault. His unsavory connections to Russia and its efforts to interfere with the election. Payment of $25 million to settle a lawsuit to compensate the fraud victims of his phony Trump University. His cabinet and administration appointees who are affiliated with radical racist organizations. And, of course, his growing list of ethically compromising conflicts of interest.

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

Now he says he will hold a press conference. The last time he said that he ended up staging an infomercial for his hotel, steaks, and other sundry QVC-esque commodities. Trump enjoys screwing with the press almost as much as lying to it. Consequently, we ought not to expect him to keep his word about the purpose of this gathering. In fact, we should not necessarily expect there to be one at all. Stay tuned.

Trump Gives A Big F.U. To The Media And The Public With A Virtual Press Blackout

Donald Trump was declared the winner of the presidential election two weeks ago. Since that time he has failed to hold a press conference to address the nation he will be representing. This is the longest period a president-elect has gone without a post-election press conference in forty years. But it’s worse than that because he actually hasn’t had a formal press conference since July. Do you suppose there might be a reason for that?

Donald Trump

Speculation could start with the fact that Trump has been more openly hostile to the media than any politician in recent memory. At his rallies he has called them dummies, losers, sleazy, liars, and more. He has not been the least bit shy about expressing his white-hot hatred for the Fourth Estate. He overtly threatened the press with lawsuits and other retribution. That included revoking the press credentials of media outlets he felt were too critical of him. In return, media advocates condemned his reckless behavior as “an unprecedented threat to press freedom.”

However, there are more substantive motives for Trump avoiding press scrutiny. The swarming torrent of scandals swirling around him pose serious risks to his nascent presidency. It begins with his election that is tainted by allegations of voter suppression and his loss of the popular vote. It continues with at least a dozen women who are charging him with sexual assault. Then there are his unsavory connections to Russia and its efforts to interfere with the election.

And that’s not all. Just a few days ago Trump agreed to pay $25 million to settle a lawsuit to compensate the fraud victims of his phony Trump University. His cabinet and administration appointees are affiliated with radical racist organizations. And he has a growing list of ethically compromising conflicts of interest. There has never been a president who has more brazenly used the office for personal gain.

No wonder Trump is avoiding the media. By going four months without taking questions from the press corps, Trump has evaded scrutiny over these and other issues. This may benefit his efforts to silence criticism, but it is a disservice to citizens and to democracy.

Sadly, the media seems to be all too willing to go along with him. Even after the atrocious way that Trump treats the press, they continue to cater to his whims. Very little mention is made of his extended refusal to face the media. That is decidedly different from the treatment that Hillary Clinton received when she went a few weeks without holding a press conference. Even though she did conduct hundreds of interviews with individual reporters, she was hounded and criticized. Fox News displayed a running clock of the days since her last press conference. And there was rampant insinuations of her having something to hide. Where is that criticism for Trump, who is no longer merely a candidate, but president-elect?

When asked when he might hold his first post-election press conference, his spokesperson, Kellyanne Conway, would say only “Soon.” She dodged any more specific answer saying that he was too busy with his transition activities. Does she expect him to be less busy when he’s the leader of the free world? What’s more, he wasn’t too busy to convene a private, off the record meeting with the heads of the major media corporations and some leading news anchors. The New York Post revealed some of what took place in that meeting, and it wasn’t pretty:

“It was like a f–ing firing squad,” one source said of the encounter.

Trump started with [CNN chief] Jeff Zucker and said “I hate your network, everyone at CNN is a liar and you should be ashamed,” the source said.

The meeting was a total disaster. The TV execs and anchors went in there thinking they would be discussing the access they would get to the Trump administration, but instead they got a Trump-style dressing down,” the source added.

A second source confirmed the fireworks.

To be sure, that account was from the notoriously bombastic New York Post. Some other reports described the get together with less intensity. But while the Post may lean toward melodrama, the others may be more interested in preserving access to the administration. All things considered, the Post’s account sounds more like the Trump we have all come to know.

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

The old fallacy of the “liberal” media is further undermined by these events. Trump is getting far more favorable treatment than Clinton did under similar circumstances. More importantly, he is getting away with suppressing coverage of his scandalous activities. The media is supposed to hold politicians to account, but they are failing to do their job. If this keeps up for the next four years America will be buried in tabloid irrelevancies. Trump’s improprieties will be state secrets. And the National Enquirer and Breitbart News will become the dominant media and serve as America’s Pravda.

Journalists’ Org BLASTS Trump As ‘An Unprecedented Threat’ To Press Freedom

The United States has never seen the likes of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. He has spent the last year and a half engaged solely in puerile insults and personal attacks. His victims have included women, minorities, veterans, and anyone he deemed less than reverential. However, the media has borne much of the weight of his manic scorn. When he isn’t “joking” about killing them, he is calling them scum, losers, dummies, and sleazy. He has revoked the press credentials of people or organizations he doesn’t like, including the Washington Post, BuzzFeed, the Huffington Post, Fusion, Univision, and more. For a couple of hours he even boycotted Fox News.

Donald Trump

Trump’s hostility toward the press is frighteningly intense. And his authoritarian attitude should alarm anyone who values free speech. Just last week two Pulitzer Prize winning journalists told NPR that Trump is a “clear and present danger” to the First Amendment. Now the Committee to Protect Journalists is weighing in with a statement “in response to Trump’s threats and vilification of the media.”

Here is the statement in full:

Guaranteeing the free flow of information to citizens through a robust, independent press is essential to American democracy. For more than 200 years this founding principle has protected journalists in the United States and inspired those around the world, including brave journalists facing violence, censorship, and government repression.

Donald Trump, through his words and actions as a candidate for president of the United States, has consistently betrayed First Amendment values. On October 6, CPJ’s board of directors passed a resolution declaring Trump an unprecedented threat to the rights of journalists and to CPJ’s ability to advocate for press freedom around the world.

Since the beginning of his candidacy, Trump has insulted and vilified the press and has made his opposition to the media a centerpiece of his campaign. Trump has routinely labeled the press as “dishonest” and “scum” and singled out individual news organizations and journalists.

He has mocked a disabled New York Times journalist and called an ABC News reporter a “sleaze” in a press conference. He expelled Univision anchor Jorge Ramos from a campaign press conference because he asked an “impertinent” question, and has publicly demeaned other journalists.

Trump has refused to condemn attacks on journalists by his supporters. His campaign has also systematically denied press credentials to outlets that have covered him critically, including The Washington Post, BuzzFeed, Politico, The Huffington Post, The Daily Beast, Univision, and The Des Moines Register.

Throughout his campaign, Trump has routinely made vague proposals to limit basic elements of press and internet freedom. At a rally in February, Trump declared that if elected president he would “open up our libel laws so when they write purposely negative and horrible and false articles, we can sue them and win lots of money.” In September, Trump tweeted, “My lawyers want to sue the failing @nytimes so badly for irresponsible intent. I said no (for now), but they are watching. Really disgusting.”

While some have suggested that these statements are rhetorical, we take Trump at his word. His intent and his disregard for the constitutional free press principle are clear.

A Trump presidency would represent a threat to press freedom in the United States, but the consequences for the rights of journalists around the world could be far more serious. Any failure of the United States to uphold its own standards emboldens dictators and despots to restrict the media in their own countries. This appears to be of no concern to Trump, who indicated that he has no inclination to challenge governments on press freedom and the treatment of journalists.

When MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough asked him in December if his admiration of Russian President Vladimir Putin was at all tempered by the country’s history of critical journalists being murdered, his response was: “He’s running his country, and at least he’s a leader, unlike what we have in this country… Well, I think that our country does plenty of killing, too.”

Through his words and actions, Trump has consistently demonstrated a contempt for the role of the press beyond offering publicity to him and advancing his interests.

For this reason CPJ is taking the unprecedented step of speaking out now. This is not about picking sides in an election. This is recognizing that a Trump presidency represents a threat to press freedom unknown in modern history.

Nuff said.

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

UPDATE: On October 13, the Committee to Protect Journalists issued an “unprecedented” statement declaring Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump “a threat to press freedom unknown in modern history.” And October 14, the National Press Club put out a statement condemning Trump’s anti-press tactics as “unacceptable and dangerous to our democracy.”

WTF Are They Thinking? CNN’s New Hire Is Trump’s Ex-Manager And Press Abuser

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.

CNN

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.

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

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?

Update: The backlash is growing as a “near revolt” at CNN is reportedly under way:

“CNN is facing a near internal revolt over the Corey hiring,” said a TV insider, who described many in the newsroom as “livid.” “Female reporters and producers especially .?.?. They are organizing and considering publicly demanding” that Lewandowski be let go.

DrumphTV: Donald Trump Eyes Boring America With His Own Cable Network

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

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.

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

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.

Donald Trump Bagged Nomination Due To Media’s Lust For Ratings, Harvard Study Reveals

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.

Donald Trump

Now a study by Harvard University’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics, 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.”

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

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 Collapse of Liberal Media: Bill O’Reilly’s Wet Dream As His Reputation Disintegrates

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).

Fox News Bill O'Reilly

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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?

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