Conservatives Really Do Hate Facts – Study Shows ‘Striking’ Partisan Divide On Fact-Checkers

The rancorous tirades thrown by Donald Trump about “fake news” have had a profound impact on the public’s perception of the media. Prior to his entry into politics, the press was already regarded suspiciously in certain quarters. But Trump has escalated that to a visceral hostility that has even led to violence.

Donald Trump

This animosity toward the media extends to what is supposed to be the most neutral and independent sector of journalism. Fact-checking entities exist to to review statements by public figures for accuracy. Of course, like any other analytical exercise they can be mistaken or slanted by political bias. However, the most prominent fact-checking sites have generally proven to be – let’s say – fair and balanced. And that’s precisely what outrages right-wingers who dispute their findings.

A new study was just completed by The Reporters’ Lab at Duke University. They analyzed hundreds of references to fact-checkers by critics from both liberal and conservative perspectives. What they found was that conservatives were overwhelming antagonistic toward fact-checking and took every opportunity to disparage it. Liberals, on the other hand, demonstrated that they were not afraid of being fact-checked. The study’s findings revealed that:

“Beyond the use of Pinocchios and Pants on Fire ratings to win the daily skirmishes, fact-checkers have seen anecdotal evidence that conservatives and liberals have different views. Some of the harshest criticism of fact-checking has come from conservative media outlets that say the sites have a liberal bias. By contrast, liberal publications have often seemed more positive about fact-checking – or at least less critical.” […]

“The partisan divide was striking: 86 percent of the negative references appeared on conservative sites, while only 14 percent appeared on liberal sites. By contrast, almost 85 percent of the positive statements came from liberal sites, while 15 percent came from conservative sites.”

This perceptual difference is emblematic of the right’s aversion to truth-telling in the Era of Trump. Our president has imbued his base with a robotic tendency to spurn anything observed in the “mainstream” media as fakery. As a result, the characterization of fact-checking by conservatives is most often dismissed as the product of liberal bias. Never mind the documentary evidence supplied by the fact-checkers to support their analyses.

These views aren’t especially surprising considering that they are fully in sync with the diatribes spouted by Trump. Our president has shown repeatedly that he is unconcerned with dispensing known falsehoods, even after he has been corrected. This is, after all, the administration that invented the notion of “alternative facts.” It is also the administration whose chief White House strategist is former Breitbart News boss, Stephen Bannon. A few years ago Bannon’s website giddily declared that the “Era of Media Fact Checkers Intimidating Republicans Is Over.” In another article they ranted that “When Not Outright Lying, Fact-Checkers Make Fools of Themselves.”

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

It is that attitude that permits Republicans and other conservatives to casually dismiss fact-checkers. The documentation provided by these specialized journalists never sink into the heads of tunnel-blind wingnuts. And that, the study notes, can have “serious consequences for the nation’s fact-checkers.” It demeans the credibility of impartial observers attempting to bring some legitimacy to otherwise partisan arguments. And it obscures the very nature of the truth. But that’s very likely the purpose of the attacks from the right. When their entire agenda is riddled with lies, truth is anathema and fact-checkers are the enemy.

Trump’s Infowars Pals Are Paying Their Crazed Fans to Wear ‘CNN is ISIS’ T-Shirts on TV

Perhaps the one thing that Donald Trump will be best remembered for after his inevitable fall from grace is his relentless and dishonest war on the media. The President’s disrespect for the First Amendment is unprecedented. He has called the media “the enemy of the American people,” while smearing reporters as “sleazy” and “liars.” His press office, led by Sean Spicer (Fibby Spice), is a chaotic mess. That may be why they have floated the notion of eliminating the traditional daily press briefings altogether.

Alex Jones Infowars

Trump’s idea of a credible press corps consists of anointing members like Breitbart News and Alex Jones’ Infowars. These rabidly rightist conspiracy mongers are the perfect emblems of the crapola that Trump regards as journalism. And stepping up to prove the point, Infowars just launched a campaign to recruit paid goons to malign a real news organization. On his website, Jones introduced an initiative to recruit his fans to get on TV wearing “CNN is ISIS” T-shirts:

“We are launching a new contest to stand up to the Left’s calls for violence against the president and against other Americans for simply exercising their right to promote Americana. Infowars is launching a new $200,000 contest to expose CNN’s Kathy Griffin and mainstream media’s call for violence. We will expose the media’s terrorist campaign.”

To collect the prize, Jones’ for-hire hoodlums have to appear in a live broadcast wearing the shirt and audibly plugging Infowars. Each successful clod will earn $1,000 with a total of $200,000 in the pot. The purpose, according to Jones, is to expose CNN as a terrorist organization by virtue of their association with Kathy Griffin. Never mind that Griffin’s over-the-top stunt had nothing to do with CNN, or that she has profusely apologized. And forget that CNN quickly dismissed her from their New Year’s Eve special. The suggestion that Griffin had actually intended anyone to behead Trump is patently absurd.

Nevertheless, Jones is determined to proceed with his own offensive publicity stunt because, well, because that’s his whole shtick. In fact, he recently sweetened the offer to $10,000. The new prize calls for “the first person to say ‘MSM is fake news or terrorist media’ on live television.” And, of course, the all-important Infowars plug is still required.

This is what Donald Trump believes is journalism. He has personally appeared on Jones’ webcast and praised him adoringly saying “Your reputation is amazing.” And Jones has been rewarded for his sycophancy with a White House press pass (at least according to Jones). Just today Trump sent an email to his supporters bragging about pulling out of the Paris Accords on Climate Change. That email featured a link to an article on Infowars.

Let that sink in. The President of the United States sent his followers an official communication that cited Infowars as a credible source for more information. This is the same Infowars that says 9/11 was an inside, government operation. It’s the same Infowars that believes the murders at Sandy Hook were fake and staged by actors. Jones has also called the Boston Marathon bombing a hoax. It’s the very same Infowars run by a conspiracy spewing fruitcake who admitted in divorce court proceedings that he is just a “performance artist.”

It may not be surprising that Trump has an affinity for Jones. They both share a pathological compulsion for lying. Trump, after all, thinks that millions of people showed up for his poorly attended inauguration. He believes he saw thousands of Muslims in New Jersey celebrating 9/11. He brags about his long-standing personal relationship with Vladimir Putin, whom he claims he’s never met. And while he stubbornly clings to the absurdity that Climate Change is a hoax, he never acknowledged that his obsession with President Obama’s birth certificate was one of the most ludicrous hoaxes of all time.

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

We’ll see if anyone manages to collect a prize from Jones’ contest. Last year he attempted a similar stunt where he tried to get fans to appear on TV shouting “Bill Clinton is a rapist.” There may have a been a couple of winners, but the project failed to achieve anything. The same fate is likely to befall this nonsense. In fact, it may provide some pretty good advertising for CNN.

Donald Trump’s Latest Tweetstorm on ‘Fake News’ May Show Signs of Dementia

For most of Donald Trump’s presidency he has lashed out at what he calls “fake news.” His assaults on the press have been unprecedented in their hostility and absurdity. The result has been an environment that puts reporters at risk of physical attacks by unhinged Republicans and their supporters. That risk was made manifest last week when the GOP congressman from Montana, Greg Gianforte, body-slammed a reporter who was just doing his job.

Trump Baby

Of course, Trump’s definition of the fake news is entirely self-serving. In short it is any news that he doesn’t like. But setting that aside, Trump can’t even keep straight what forms the basis of his objections. Take for instance his Twitter disgorge Sunday morning. After a relatively quiet week while the President was busy embarrassing America overseas, Trump has resumed his pathetic Twimpering:

The use of anonymous sources is nothing new in journalism. It is a credible and necessary method of acquiring information that the public needs to know. Watergate was famously sourced to a figure known at the time only as “Deep Throat.” What’s more, anonymity is just as often a means for politicians to communicate with the public. They all do it, including Trump. Trump has even acted as his own anonymous source under pseudonyms like “John Barron.”

But what’s most troubling about Trump’s Sunday spew is that his outrage at fake news directly contradicts his prior complaints about “leakers” in his administration. He is now claiming that the leaks are “fabricated lies made up by the #FakeNews media,” and that “those sources don’t exist.” But if that’s so, then why did he order Attorney General Jeff Sessions to initiate an investigation into leaks. Was he ordering a probe into something he believes doesn’t occur?

Trump’s current position on leaks also calls into question his firing of former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. The revelations about his clandestine meetings with Russian operatives were exposed by anonymously sourced news reports. Did Trump fire a top aide based on information he thinks was made up by unscrupulous reporters?

He can’t have it both ways. Either the leaks were credible and accurate and deserving of action, or they were invented and false and ought to have been ignored. Or there’s a third scenario. Trump is suffering from acute dementia and doesn’t know what he’s saying from one day to the next. Combine that with a dose of paranoia wherein everything he perceives as negative is a deliberate attack by a covert cabal of enemies and you have a recipe for chaos.

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

It’s that third, and most likely, scenario that makes Trump so dangerous. He has already called the media the “enemy of the American people.” His relentless attacks only serve to destabilize the foundation of America’s free press. The organizations that represent the welfare of journalists regard Trump as an “unprecedented threat” to press freedom. And with each new day Trump seems determined to prove that that’s true.

NOT THE ENEMY: Twitter Pounds Trump’s Anti-American Attack On The Free Press

On Friday Donald Trump posted one of his most offensive tweets to date. And that’s saying something. The Twitter president continues to use the social media site as a means of lashing out against his critics. His latest tweet sinks to a new low by calling some of those critics “enemies.”

To be clear, Trump is referring to the people who practice the only profession explicitly protected in the Constitution. He is maligning thousands of dedicated truth-seekers who gave their lives to expose corruption, brutality, and deception. For all its flaws, and there are many, the press is an indispensable component of liberty in a democratic society. The toxic repulsiveness of his comment cannot be understated.

Donald Trump

The fundamental value of the media is something that Donald can never understand. Either that or he understands it all too well, which explains his hostility toward it. His repulsive tweet stirred responses from Twitizens who were justifiably outraged. Here a re few of those responses aggregated under the trending hashtag #NotTheEnemy:

Nuff said.

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

WTF? Alternative Facts: The Women’s March On Washington Was Actually Pro-Trump?

In the the post-truth era ushered in by the Trump administration, respect for facts is taking a much smaller role in political discourse. These are, after all, the folks who brought us “alternative facts,” otherwise known as fiction. And the chief dispenser of the official White House falsehoods is press secretary Sean Spicer.

Donald Trump

On Monday Spicer held the very first press briefing of the Trump presidency. It was a peculiar affair that included fierce denials of what he said just two days before. However, Spicer was consistent on the subject of Trump’s much larger inauguration crowd – which wasn’t true. He also continued waging what Trump called his “running war with the media.” Spicer was dismayed by the “negativity” of the press and how it was demoralizing to the President and his team. Poor babies. Everyone knows the role of the press is to bolster the President’s morale.

Perhaps Spicer’s most preposterous assertion came in a response to a question about the Women’s March on Washington. This event drew unprecedented crowds to the nation’s capital as well cities across the country and around the world. It was a massive repudiation of Trump and his alt-populist agenda. Yet Spicer’s representation of his boss’ reaction to the protest was overtly delusional:

“I think he has a healthy respect for the First Amendment and this is what makes our country so beautiful, is that on one day you can inaugurate a President, on the next day people can occupy the same space to protest something. But he’s also cognizant to the fact that a lot of these people were there to protest an issue of concern to them and not against anything.”

Yeah, that’s the ticket. These millions of protesters weren’t actually protesting at all. In fact, in Trump World, they were only there for the shopping and sightseeing. Or as Spicer suggested, “there were people that came to the mall as they do all the time, sometimes in smaller numbers.”

At this rate it won’t be long before Spicer declares that the march was actually in support of Trump. Never mind all the “pussyhats” and signs expressing decidedly anti-Trump views. The Trump team’s “alternative fact” emerging from Saturday’s historic public demonstration is that it was a non-partisan gathering of typical Washington residents and tourists. The factual fact (a newly required redundancy) is that millions of Americans poured into the streets to renounce Donald Trump. Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear that he is honest enough to accept it. Sad!

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

ALTERNATIVE FACTS? The Trump Team’s War On The Media – And Reality

It didn’t take long for Donald Trump and his press team to fulfill the most dire predictions made regarding his hostility toward the media. During his campaign, alarmed press advocates called him out as “an unprecedented threat to the rights of journalists.” His treatment of reporters covering him was brazenly antagonistic and insulting. And now that he has been sworn in as president, he hasn’t moderated his animosity in the least.

Kellyanne Conway

At a hastily assembled appearance at CIA offices, Trump spoke mainly about his “running war with the media.” He made a point of disparaging them as “the most dishonest human beings on earth.” Why he thought that was an appropriate subject for this audience is a mystery. But it was also the theme of the day for his staff.

Press Secretary Sean Spicer called the White House press corps together to deliver a statement. What transpired was shocking and unprecedented. For his first showing in the White House briefing room, Spicer unleashed a torrent of invective and lies which he read awkwardly from prepared notes. He lied about things for which there is video proof. He elevated a tangential issue above far more important matters in the news. His ranting reflected Trump’s thin-skinned narcissism and ego-drive obsession with approval. His angry and partisan insults were disrespectful and somewhat fascistic as he instructed reporters on what they should cover. He clearly doesn’t understand his role as a conduit for informing the public. And he concluded by stomping out with taking a single question.

Worst of all, Spicer’s complaints were a collection of verifiable lies. Among the falsehoods he sought to disseminate are these, which were all proven to be untrue by PolitiFact:

  • “This is the first time in our nation’s history that floor coverings have been used to protect the grass on the Mall.”
    FALSE: They were used in 2012 for Obama’s second inauguration.
  • “This was also the first time that fencing and magnetometers went as far back on the Mall, preventing hundreds of thousands of people from being able to access the Mall as quickly as they had in inaugurations past.”
    FALSE: The Secret Service, who are responsible for these matters, refutes this.
  • “No one had numbers, because the National Parks Service does not put any out.”
    FALSE: While the Parks Service doesn’t put out numbers, other parties do.
  • “We know that 420,000 people used the D.C, Metro public transit yesterday, which actually compares to 317,000 for president Obama’s last inaugural.”
    FALSE: The D.C. Metro actually provided different numbers that show Obama’s attendance were substantially higher.
  • “This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period. Both in person and around the globe.”
    FALSE: Obama’s first inauguration drew 1.8 million people (seven time more), and the television audience was 38 million (seven million more).

Spicer spoke about his intention to “to hold the press accountable.” However, it remains unclear what he means by that. Sunday morning, Trump’s senior advisor, Kellyanne Conway, told NBC’s Chuck Todd that “our press secretary, Sean Spicer, gave alternative facts.” As Todd pointed out, another term for “alternative facts” is falsehoods.

Trump’s chief of staff, Reince Priebus, also commented on this subject. He said that “The point is not the crowd size. The point is the attacks and the attempt to delegitimize this president.” Priebus is asserting that an honest presentation of the facts “deligitimizes” his boss. He may have a point.

All of this is reminiscent of remarks made by another Trump surrogate during a radio interview in December. Scottie Nell Hughes declared that “There’s no such thing unfortunately, anymore, as facts.” That viewpoint is an admission that they can’t possibly persuade anyone to support them if they have to rely on reality. Consequently, they resort to creating their own reality and sucking the weak into it.

Finally, on a peculiar side note, the video below is from CNN. That’s because the video on the all-new White House website is something of a digital monstrosity. It’s about an hour and forty-seven minutes long. However, the first hour and thirteen minutes is just silence with a blue card saying the statement is “Beginning Shortly.” That’s followed by about twenty minutes of an empty podium in the briefing room. Then we get to the actual six minute statement by Spicer. And finally, the video closes with another eight minutes of a blue card saying “Just Concluded.” Either they don’t have anyone who can edit a video, or they meant to bury the six minute statement in nearly two hours of nothing. Given what he had to say, that might be a pretty reasonable strategy. Unfortunately, we may be in for another four years of this obfuscation and incompetence.

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

Trump’s Latest Tweet Threatens The Media (And Press Freedom) For Doing Their Job

Friday morning Donald Trump took another step toward the totalitarian dystopia he yearns to rule. He’s spent months disparaging the intelligence community on which he must rely. At the same time he has defended Russia from charges of hacking that has now been proven beyond question.

Trump Baby

And now he is proposing concrete actions to punish the free press that he so blatantly abhors. This is what he tweeted this morning while waiting to be briefed on the Russian hacking report:

The frightening aspects of that cannot be be understated. Trump is proposing an investigation of a news organization that did precisely what is expected of it. NBC utilized its sources to acquire government information that is relevant to all citizens. And contrary to Trump’s frantic accusation, there is no indication that any of it was top secret. The government was going to release a public version of the report anyway. NBC just scooped them.

What is apparent is that Trump is more concerned about NBC getting info that’s about to be released anyway, than he is about Russians hacking American citizens and political organizations. He is distracting from the far more significant news that Russia had helped him achieve his tainted victory. They even celebrated and congratulated themselves for their successful effort.

It’s important to note the distinction between what Trump’s allies in Russia did and what NBC did. The hackers stole private information from individuals and organizations. That data was not public property. Russia, WikiLeaks, et al, were not revealing government secrets that the people had a right to know. NBC, on the other hand did just that. The Intelligence reports they previewed were paid for by taxpayers for their benefit. So NBC was performing a public service, while Russia/WikiLeaks was invading privacy. But only the privacy of Democrats so as to assist their favored candidate, Donald Trump.

Trump doesn’t care about Russians hacking an American election. He has defended them, and his BFF Vladimir Putin, from the start. Even worse, he has maligned the dangerous work of American patriots serving their country. Under the circumstances, one has to wonder why any intelligence operative would risk their life for Trump during his administration.

Trump has also been a constant foe of the free press. He has called reporters “sleazy” and “dummies” and “liars” and worse. Respected journalists had their credentials revoked to prevent them from covering his rallies. Organizations that represent the interests of journalists have condemned him as a “threat to press freedom unknown in modern history.”

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

That condemnation is playing out bigly today with this new attack on the press. And Trump has still never called for a congressional investigation of the Russian hacking. His whining about NBC sharing intelligence before he has seen it rings hollow. After all, it’s easy to get intelligence before Trump sees it when he doesn’t even bother to take intelligence briefings.

UPDATE: As it turns out, about six hours before Trump’s tweet WikiLeaks posted a tweet that is eerily similar:

That tweet also falsely states that the information NBC reported was “Top Secret.” And it makes the point that NBC received the info before Trump. Considering the similarities it is likely that Trump simply copied the contents of the WikiLeaks tweet for his own. And that’s just more proof that they are working together.

It’s also astonishing that WikiLeaks is complaining about “leaks” to the media. That’s their whole friggin’ reason for existing. But those dishonest hypocrites go nuts when someone else disseminates information acquired through legitimate journalistic means (as opposed to hacking and theft) if it is adverse to their partisan agenda.

What The Flying F**k? Now Trump Says His Business Conflicts Are NOT ‘So Complex’

President-Elect Donald Trump has made boasting about the breadth of his massive business empire a hallmark of his campaign. It was one of the most frequently cited qualifications of his quest for the presidency. His alleged business acumen and worldwide holdings was presented as proof that he could “Make America Great Again.” Never mind that a true account of his past is replete with failures and bankruptcies.

Donald Trump

In addition to bragging about his vast “wealth,” Trump exploited the complexity of his finances to avoid releasing his taxes. No presidential candidate has gotten away with such a refusal in over fifty years. In Trump’s case, this information is critical to understanding the myriad conflicts of interest he will face as president. Even more troubling is the recent discovery of Russia’s involvement in hacking during the election to boost Trump’s prospects. Without more detailed knowledge of his corporate connections it’s difficult to know how Trump himself might have been involved.

Two weeks ago Trump promised to hold a press conference to lay out exactly how he would mitigate even the appearance of impropriety. That event was abruptly canceled without explanation. His campaign issued a vague statement that it would be rescheduled for sometime in January. Of course, based on his track record, I wouldn’t bet the house on it.

Now Trump has responded to the bipartisan criticism he’s received for failing to come clean. Naturally, his response came in the form of an utterly substanceless tweet:

Well then … Now Trump’s businesses are suddenly a simple matter to understand. It’s the media that has built them up into monstrous complexities that no one short of his brilliance can grasp. The first question this raises is pretty obvious. If it’s so simple, why doesn’t he just explain it and get it out of the way? He could hold a brief press conference and satisfy everyone in a matter of minutes. Surely, if he has time to meet with Kanye West, he has time for this far more important obligation. Or are the American people a lower priority than Mr, Kardashian?

The problem with his tweet is that the Trump campaign has already contradicted it. His staff has guided the media to an entirely different set of excuses:

Sean Spicer: “He realized, talking to lawyers and accountants, it was going to take a little bit more time.”

Jason Miller: “I think one of the important things to keep in mind is for someone who’s been so successful, who has so many different deals, so many properties and so many different investments, it takes a while to move that along. […] It’s complicated to get that done right.”

Even this guy:

Trump: “I have one of the world’s most complicated tax returns. It’s a massive return.”

So The Donald wants it both ways. His business practices are so complicated that they can’t be compiled and divulged in an expeditious manner. At the same time, they aren’t really “so complex” after all. It’s just the media distorting the truth. And while Trump seeks to keep everyone confused, his financial corruption and treasonous affairs with Russia get pushed aside. It’s a dangerous game and he shouldn’t be allowed to get away with it. That much is indeed simple to understand. Even for the media.

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

Alarming New Law Could Allow ‘Voice Of America’ To Turn Into Trump’s Pravda

The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) is a federal agency with seventy-four years of history. It was created to produce pro-western news stories for distribution around the world. It was intended to advance democracy and counter propaganda in countries suffering from stiff censorship and suppression of free speech.

Donald Trump

The BBG manages outlets like the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe, among others. However, its mission of late has been muted by bureaucracy and mismanagement. In an effort to address these problems Congress passed a reform bill that would phase out the bipartisan board and replace it with a CEO to be appointed by the president.

These reforms were not considered especially controversial when they were proposed. They even received some bipartisan support in Congress. However, with the election of Donald Trump, some of the initiative’s backers are having second thoughts. As Politico reported:

“President-elect Donald Trump is about to inherit a newly empowered Voice of America that some officials fear could serve as an unfettered propaganda arm for the former reality TV star who has flirted for years with launching his own network.

“Buried on page 1,404 of the National Defense Authorization Act that passed last week is a provision that would disband the bipartisan board of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, the independent U.S. agency that includes Voice of America, Radio Free Europe, Radio Free Asia and the Middle East Broadcast Networks.”

Trump and his cohorts have demonstrated that they are not above lying to manufacture narratives that support their interests. Consequently, the new BBG could wind up being a version of Trump TV that is “financed by taxpayers to the tune of $800 million per year.” And with other recent legislation, there’s nothing to stop this agency from airing its broadcasts in the United States. This is troubling because the reformed board could produce propaganda aimed at American citizens and distribute it through conventional media and news programming.

Now some people might be thinking “So what? Isn’t that what Fox News already does?” And they would be right. Fox News is the de facto PR division of the Republican Party. And with the elevation of Trump to the White House, Fox becomes the President’s official mouthpiece. However, another production entity with a nearly billion dollar budget should not be dismissed. It’s programming could be distributed to hundreds of small TV stations throughout the country who could air it for free. This would expand the reach of the right’s propaganda to millions of new households.

The congressional managers of the bill insist that their reforms preserve a “firewall” that prohibits political influence from the White House or the new CEO. They maintain that journalists would still have a free hand to produce their own stories. But if the new CEO was inclined to throw his weight around, he could still bully his subordinates into submission. Plus he could hire journalists that were pre-screened for right-wing, ideological purity. Imagine someone like Stephen Bannon (Trump’s Strategic Advisor and former chairman of Breitbart News) in that role. And Roger Ailes, former CEO of Fox News, is looking for work after having been fired for sexual harassment. He and Trump are best buddies.

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

Both Democratic and Republican members of the current board have expressed concerns about the reforms. They recognize the potential for abuse without strict oversight. The Washington Post notes that, “If Congress’s intention was for US broadcasting to rival the Kremlin’s, it may well get its wish.” And what would make Trump happier than to emulate his hero in Russia with his very own version of Pravda?

Donald Trump Cancels Press Conference To Address His Sleazy Conflicts Of Interest

The specter of Donald Trump’s business relations continues to hang heavily over his pending administration. For months there has been concern over the far flung enterprises that could have a profound impact on how he might govern. The opportunity for personal enrichment is more than speculation

Donald Trump

Foreign government officials are already trying to curry favor with Trump by booking rooms at his hotels. What’s worse, Trump has projects in countries whose leaders could use their presence to blackmail Trump. That can take the shape of denying permits or other regulatory requirements that would kill the projects. But it could also involve harassment, and even imprisonment, of Trump’s local associates.

There is no way to adequately prevent such activities without Trump completely divesting himself of his businesses. Simply handing them off to his kids would not suffice. Everyone, including Trump, would still know how to influence the leader of the free world. So two weeks ago, in an attempt to address these problems, Trump announced that he would hold a press conference. In a series of tweets (of course) he said that:

“I will be holding a major news conference in New York City with my children on December 15 to discuss the fact that I will be leaving my great business in total in order to fully focus on running the country in order to MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN! While I am not mandated to do this under the law, I feel it is visually important, as President, to in no way have a conflict of interest with my various businesses..Hence, legal documents are being crafted which take me completely out of business operations. The Presidency is a far more important task!”

Once again, Trump still thinks that his kids would provide the necessary distance to avoid potential corruption. But all it does is appoints his kids as the executors of his worldwide graft and bribery operations. It could not be characterized as a “blind trust” and would still be a tempting target for favors or threats. However, even his promise to hold a press conference on these dubious terms is not being kept. On Monday he disgorged another set of tweets saying:

These remarks leave numerous questions unanswered. There is still no clarification of how he would address his glaring conflicts of interest. And he still offers his family as phony managers of his financial empire. No legal ruling has been made as to whether he might be in violation of the law. Although many experts believe the Constitution would prohibit his continued ownership status. The definition of “new deals” could mean anything. And despite the “busy times” he’s still not too busy to watch Saturday Night Live and meet with Kanye West.

Finally, by canceling the press conference that was scheduled for this Thursday, Trump has relieved himself of the responsibility to provide answers for these questions. He now says that he will hold a press conference sometime in January. That could mean so close to, or even after, the inauguration that it would be impossible to research and respond. Plus, he is combining that proposed press conference with several other unrelated subjects.

Trump has not held a press conference in the five 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 a few 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.

This deliberate snubbing of the press has enabled Trump to avoid some serious issues. For instance, persistent allegations of voter suppression and his loss of the popular vote. Charges by at least a dozen women who claim he sexual assaulted them. Payment of $25 million to settle a lawsuit to compensate the fraud victims of his phony Trump University. His white supremacist (aka alt-right) cabinet and administration appointees. His unsavory connections to Russia and its efforts to interfere with the election. And, of course, his chronic and ethically compromising conflicts of interest. The lengthening list of political atrocities makes it impossible to cover in a single event.

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

No one knows whether Trump is going to hold a press conference to address any of these issues. He broke his promise to do so on Thursday and could do the same next month. Or he could hold another press conference that turns into an infomercial for his hotels and cheesy products. He’s done that before as well. The bottom line is that he cannot be trusted to keep his word or to abstain from personally enriching himself and his family. This charlatan needs to be watched like the vulture he is lest he consume what remains of our country, it’s democracy, and freedom.