Live television always holds out the possibility of unanticipated “contributions” to the program. The “Curvy Couch” potatoes of Fox & Friends found that out this morning during a remote outside the studio.
While introducing a fluffy segment on shelter pets, a crazed figure pops up behind the hosts. He then removes his shirt and tie to reveal a t-shirt with a picture of Bill Clinton above the word “Rape.” Repeatedly shouting “Bill Clinton is a rapist,” the intruder attempts to jump over the barriers protecting the set. The hosts giggle and try to remain composed as security drags the protester away. It’s actually pretty funny, however, there is a serious subtext to the event.
First of all, the reckless and unfounded allegations against Bill Clinton are the work of nut job conspiracy theorists like Alex Jones of Infowars. In fact. Jones actually made a public offer to pay $1,000.00 to anyone who successfully got on the air wearing that shirt (which he sells on his website) and shouting that message. Presumably that guy can use the money right about mow – for bail.
More to the point, while this incident was obviously carried out by a certified fruitcake, the exact same message has played out on Fox News by their own anchors and guests. In June of last year Megyn Kelly raised the issue saying that “Bill Clinton was accused of rape. He has been accused by several women of sexually assaulting them.” F&F Anchor Steve Doocy interviewed disreputable rumor monger Ed Klein whose book charges that Bill raped Hillary. Doocy affirmed Klein’s nonsense asserting, without foundation, that his “sources are impeccable.” Frequent Fox guest Ann Coulter gave a speech at CPAC in March of 2013 wherein she ranted that “The keynote speaker at the Democratic National Convention this year was forcible rapist Bill Clinton.” Fox contributor Katie Pavlich wrote that “Bill Clinton is probably a Rapist.”
If that isn’t enough, just last May Sean Hannity hosted Donald Trump as they attempted to dismiss his tawdry past. For the record, that includes three marriages and infidelities too numerous to cite. He literally bragged about them. What’s more, Trump himself is currently being sued for the rape of a thirteen year old girl. He was also accused of rape by his ex-wife, Ivana. So of course this conversation ignored all of that and quickly diverted to a comparison to Bill Clinton:
Hannity: In one case it’s about exposure. In another case it’s about groping and fondling and touching against a woman’s will. Trump: And rape. Hannity: And rape.
So whatever the state of mind of the wacko who tried to crash Fox’s broadcast there is one thing that is abundantly clear. He has the same political positions as the Fox News regulars. They might as well have let him join the others on the air. Who knows, maybe security took him to see someone in Human Resources and they gave him a job. Stay tuned for the Photobomber News Hour on Fox News.
Now that the general election scorecard is filled and the major party conventions are history, the next big events in the election cycle will be the highly anticipated Clinton/Trump debates. While the conventions are usually seen as self-serving infomercials, voters often regard the debates as critical opportunities to assess the candidates and make a decision.
Well, it didn’t take twenty-four hours for Donald Trump to start whining about the debate process and laying the groundwork to slither away without having to confront Hillary Clinton face to face. Last night he summoned up the courage to venture out onto the Twitter machine and post this:
As usual, Hillary & the Dems are trying to rig the debates so 2 are up against major NFL games. Same as last time w/ Bernie. Unacceptable!
As usual, Trump and the GOP are trying to hide their fear by accusing everyone of conspiring against them. Trump’s paranoia is sending him into delusional fits that are precursors to a cowardly retreat, just like when he skipped out on a Fox News debate because he was too scared to face Megyn Kelly. Clearly he has a problem with strong women.
For the record, neither Clinton nor the Democratic Party had anything to do with the debate schedule. The Commission On Presidential Debates (CPD) has been managing these affairs since 1988. It is run by former members of both parties who have no affiliation with any candidate. The current schedule was released nearly a year ago (September 23, 2015), before any of the candidates were chosen. And it would be nearly impossible to find broadcast dates that didn’t coincide with a popular television program, whether it be the NFL or Law & Order or America’s Got Talent.
Trump has already demonstrated his tendency to provoke melodrama with regard to candidate debates. He turned the GOP primary debates into feral spectacles of crass immaturity and avoidance of substance. His tantrums succeeded in forcing the Republican National Committee and the media to capitulate to his will, forcing out networks or media co-sponsors that he didn’t think were sufficiently deferential to him.
What Trump means by “Unacceptable” is unclear. Is he declaring now that he is refusing to participate in the debates? Is he demanding that other terms agreeable to him are implemented? Or is he preparing his excuse for when he fails to show up like every other presidential candidate has done for over half a century? In any case he is revealing that he is a sniveling coward who would be knocked senseless were he to step into the ring with Hillary. And he knows it.
So look for Trump to continue his whining up to, throughout, and following the debates (if he even shows up). And watch him try to blame his failures on the legions of imaginary enemies who are amassed to bring him down. Donald Trump is a walking psychosis who is frantically searching for a way to avoid being humiliated by an uppity woman. At times like these you realize that there just isn’t enough popcorn in the world.
UPDATE: Lyin’ Don told George Stephanopoulos on This Week that the NFL sent him a letter saying that “This is ridiculous. Why are the debates against us?” But an NFL spokesman quickly denied it tweeting“While we’d obviously wish the debate commission could find another night, we did not send a letter to Trump.”
If anyone was wondering where Fox News host Gretchen Carlson has been for the past few weeks, the mystery has now been solved. Without any public notice or explanation she was fired last month and removed from the air. Now the reasons have been made clear. According to The Hollywood Reporter…
“Gretchen Carlson, a broadcast veteran, claims in a sexual harassment lawsuit that she was let go from Fox News on June 23 as retaliation for rebuffing Roger Ailes’ sexual advances.”
Carlson is alleging both sexual harassment by Ailes and retaliation for reporting discriminatory behavior prior to that by her Fox colleagues. Her complaint says in part that…
“When Carlson met with Ailes to discuss the discriminatory treatment to which she was being subjected, Ailes stated: ‘I think you and I should have had a sexual relationship a long time ago and then you’d be good and better and I’d be good and better,’ adding that ‘sometimes problems are easier to solve’ that way. Carlson rebuffed Ailes’ sexual demands at that meeting, and nine months later, Ailes ended her career at Fox News.”
Carlson had been with Fox News for eleven years and was hosting her own daytime program “The Real Story” which was number one in its time period. She was previously a co-host on Fox & Friends where she says was subjected to “severe and pervasive sexual harassment” from her co-host Steve Doocy. The Hollywood Reporter notes that…
“In 2009, Carlson says she complained to a supervisor that Steve Doocy, one of her co-hosts on Fox & Friends, ‘had created a hostile work environment by regularly treating her in a sexist and condescending way, including by putting his hand on her and pulling down her arm to shush her during a live telecast..”
It was in response to those and other incidents that Carlson met with Ailes in September of 2015. Carlson alleges that her complaints were not taken seriously at that meeting and she was further harassed by Ailes with more explicit demands for sex. After her refusal she charges that she was punished with a cut in salary and other retaliatory measures including slashing her appearances on the network, and being denied social media and public relations support.
Roger Ailes has a long history of exploiting sex in the workplace. He has required his female anchors and contributors to wear revealing clothing and engage in other provocative on-air behaviors. Gabriel Sherman wrote in his biography of Ailes, “The Loudest Voice In The Room,” that Ailes has repeatedly given direction to his staff regarding the display of female body parts. For instance:
When the view of reporter Kiran Chetry was obstructed, Ailes called the control booth to demand that they “Move that damn laptop, I can’t see her legs!”
Ailes complained about host Catherine Crier’s attire saying that “I did not spend x-number of dollars on a glass desk for her to wear pant suits.”
The casting of The Five included one particular co-host because “I Need The Leg. That’s Andrea Tantaros.”
Furthermore, NPR’s media reporter David Folkenflik was told by knowledgeable sources about the Fox News “Leg Cam” that “goes directly for the legs.” And when host Megyn Kelly was interviewed by GQ (with an accompanying, and revealing, pictorial), she was asked about her own “glass table that shows off your legs.” She responded that “Well, It’s a visual business. People want to see the anchor.” That must be why Bill O’Reilly wears those low-cut blouses. O’Reilly has had his own problems in this area. A few years ago he paid a multi-million dollar settlement to his former producer, Andrea Mackris, for sexual harassment. Also, when Gretchen Carlson was tapped to replace Megyn Kelly in daytime, she revealed that “pants were not allowed on Fox & Friends,” and teased viewers with the prospect that on her new show “I might forget my clothes the first day.”
Additionally, there is another mystery surrounding a different female host at Fox News. Andrea Tantaros was a regular member of the panel on Fox’s “Outnumbered.” She disappeared in April with the only explanation being that it was “a contract issue.” While there were incidents of sexually improper conduct with regard to Tantaros as noted above, there is no evidence at this time that her departure is related to that.
It remains to seen if Roger Ailes will be held accountable for what appears to be a pattern of inappropriate and unprofessional behavior. But this complaint is a major breakthrough that took courage for Carlson to file and is likely to result in further revelations. The male-dominated culture at Fox News, conspicuously known for its abundance of blondes, could produce many more examples of sexist conduct and discrimination. We may just be at the tip of the iceberg.
UPDATE: CNN’s Brian Stelter is reporting that “In the hours since the lawsuit was announced, ‘at least ten’ other women have contacted the law firm, wanting to speak about Ailes’ treatment, according to a spokesman for the firm.” That didn’t take long.
It won’t surprise anyone to learn that Fox News has jumped aboard the Donald Trump bandwagon in a big way. His most ardent supporters are featured regularly to exalt the presumptuous Republican presidential nominee. Those supporters include the anchors of Fox’s most watched programs in primetime.
This past week Fox News handed over its primetime schedule to hour-long specials dedicated to Trump. Every single program set aside all other news stories for an episode of fluffing their favorite candidate. This is unprecedented even for Fox. It comes just a week after the chairman of the Fox News empire, Rupert Murdoch, was reported to have embraced Trump’s candidacy. New York Magazine’s veteran Fox-watcher, Gabriel Sherman, revealed that…
“According to a half dozen sources familiar with Murdoch’s thinking, the media mogul has signaled he plans to fully back Trump in the general election against Hillary Clinton.”
So it’s no coincidence that the following week Fox’s schedule is littered with packaged profiles of Trump that add nothing to the viewer’s store of knowledge or ability to make an informed decision. Here is what Fox’s primetime offered up last week as a gift to Donald Trump:
Greta Van Susteren’s “Meet The Trump’s”
Van Susteren devoted the whole hour of her show to interviews with Trump’s family, She spent the most time with his wife Melania whose relentless praise was reminiscent of victims of Stockholm Syndrome. She even said that she and Donald never argue. Does that sound like a normal marriage or a paid campaign infomercial?
Megyn Kelly’s Donald Trump File
This episode of the Kelly File was partly a rebroadcast of “Megyn Kelly Presents,” the widely panned special that aired on the Fox Entertainment Network. There was some additional footage included that was left out of the original broadcast and, having seen it, Kelly was right to have cut it in the first place. It contained nothing new or interesting.
Bill O’Reilly’s “The Trump Phenomenon”
Not wanting to be left out, O’Reilly cobbled together a bunch of old interviews and presented them as a package for any of his viewers who haven’t seen enough of Donald Trump on television lately. O’Reilly and Trump are old pals and the interviews are a tribute to the sort of softball journalism that you would expect between friends.
And Then There’s Sean Hannity
To his credit, Hannity is the only one of the four primetime hosts who actually bothered to deliver a significant amount of new material featuring Trump. Of course it was substantially the same as everything that Hannity has delivered in the past. He has the distinction of having provided Trump with more airtime than any other program on Television (over 17 hours). To illustrate how much time that is, Fox & Friends came in second with less than half that amount.
Since Trump just surpassed the number of delegates necessary to clinch the GOP nomination, we can expect much more of this hero worship from the folks at Fox News as the general election unfolds. The network that has been pretending to be “fair and balanced” for the past twenty years is wholly engaged in their mission to smear Hillary Clinton and elect Donald Trump.
While Clinton has not made herself available to Fox with much frequency (she did appear on Fox News Sunday recently), there is nothing stopping them assembling a packaged piece like these ones that they did for Trump. And maybe that’s for the best because, if they did, they would likely accuse her of blowing up the Hindenburg or assassinating Lincoln.
There is nothing more embarrassing than a public figure so desperate for attention that he uncorks painfully shallow op-eds that only demonstrate why he gets so little attention. That’s the situation that MSNBC’s Morning Joe Scarborough finds himself in now after he penned a column for the Washington Post with unsolicited advice for Megyn Kelly of Fox News. The column is headlined “Megyn Kelly, Fox News, and the Curse of Glenn Beck.”
Scarborough’s column purported to be a stab at career guidance for Kelly, Fox’s trending primetime star anchor. He made note of her recent comments regarding her future with Fox News. Kelly said that, while she is happy at Fox, it also causes “brain damage,” and that she has not decided what she will do when her current contract expires.
Scarborough thinks that Kelly would be making a terrible mistake were she to leave Fox News, the network that built her into a household name for news junkies. He may be right, but not for the ludicrous reason he floated:
“If Kelly wants to leave Fox News for family reasons, good for her. But if Kelly is thinking of escaping Roger Ailes and Fox News because she thinks she has outgrown the man and his star-making machinery, I humbly offer a friendly suggestion: Call Glenn Beck.”
First of all, calling Glenn Beck for advice on anything is never a good idea. Beck would sell you worthless gold coins and replace your health insurance with prayer. Beck is the man who thinks that God speaks to him about political matters and has told him the world is ending so many times that either God is a pathological liar or he is hilariously fucking with Beck.
More to the point, Scarborough’s suggestion is based on the catastrophe that Beck’s career has become since leaving Fox and, therefore, Kelly should avoid a similar disastrous fate. But Scarborough has completely misread the disparate media landscapes facing Beck and Kelly.
Glenn Beck was fired from Fox News with no place else to go in cable or broadcast media. His dismissal was the result of his outlandish and offensive behavior on his show that resulted in an advertiser boycott that stripped the program of any significant revenue. He was cast aside as damaged goods and had few prospects other than the Internet’s wingnut underground and his remaining radio fans.
Megyn Kelly, by contrast, is the jewel in Fox’s primetime lineup. She frequently beats Bill O’Reilly’s ratings and is featured regularly in magazine profiles that are pure puffery. More importantly, she is in demand by every network who would leap at the opportunity to steal the popular and rising star from Fox to bolster their own networks and to deprive Fox of a proven ratings draw. None of this is a reflection on the quality of Kelly’s work, which is sorely lacking in credibility and ethics. It is just a real world observation of her success on a conservative network that rewards blind loyalty to rightist partisanship.
In short, Kelly is contemplating a departure from Fox at a time when her stock is valuable and rising. Beck left Fox as a loser who was dumped for being too insanely right-wing for the avowed centerpiece of right-wing media. But Scarborough thinks that these two situations are comparable and that Kelly should be nervous about becoming the next Beck. That’s nonsense.
Scarborough is once again illustrating why he is such an inferior analyst. He can’t see past his own biases. In this case his leanings are to genuflect before the divine Roger Ailes, whom Scarborough repeatedly praises in this article. It’s hard to see this column as anything other than Scarborough posting his resume in a public plea for Fox to hire him. And it comes complete with a pledge of loyalty that he wouldn’t abandon them the way that traitor Kelly is threatening to do, and that he gladly take her time slot. That would probably help MSNBC more than it would help Fox.
Gabriel Sherman has been writing about Fox News for many years and has been the source of several major scoops. He is the author of a biography of Fox CEO Roger Ailes (The Loudest Voice in the Room), and his sources are deeply embedded in the organization and are generally reliable. His columns for New York Magazine have exposed the inner workings of the network such as one of the possible reasons that Fox kowtows to Donald Trump (he has dirt on Ailes).
In his most recent column, Sherman addresses the discovery that Fox’s Megyn Kelly visited Trump at Trump Tower to try to cool his burning animosity toward her and to perhaps get him to appear on her special for the Fox Entertainment Network next month. It’s an interesting read, but one part of it diverges from the main topic to present an even juicier dilemma for Fox.
In the course of unraveling the melodrama in progress between Fox, Trump and Kelly, Sherman makes an observation about Fox’s primetime programming that deserves further analysis:
“Fox’s lineup is more in flux than it has been in years. According to sources, Sean Hannity is the only prime-time personality who has recently reupped for another term. O’Reilly, who turns 67 this year, has yet to commit. If Ailes were to lose Kelly and O’Reilly, Fox’s evening schedule — the source of most of its advertising revenue — would collapse. ‘There’s not much of a bench,’ one veteran Fox executive says. And CNN is already nipping at Fox’s lead in the key advertising demographic of 25-to 54-year-olds (though Fox still has more total viewers).”
Indeed, Fox would be up a creek if it lost O’Reilly and Kelly. Needless to say, the suits will try everything they can to avoid that doomsday scenario, but with O’Reilly getting way past his expiration date, and Kelly getting money and opportunity thrown at her from all directions, Fox may not have any say in the matter.
So how would Fox fill the void left by its two biggest stars? They have traditionally promoted from within, but as Sherman’s source notes, “there’s not much of a bench.” They surely couldn’t elevate their morning “curvy couch potatoes” (Steve Doocy, Brian Kilmeade, Ainsley Earhardt) to primetime. Their afternoon roster is dominated by Neil Cavuto (who is also anchoring a show on Fox Business Channel and serves as Exec VP of business for both networks), Shepard Smith (whose portfolio is breaking news), and Bret Baier (who is the networks version of a “legitimate” nightly news anchor), so none of them would slide easily into a nightside opinion format.
There are minor players among the contributor class at Fox who simply don’t have the gravitas to pull off the promotion. They include people like the terminally lightweight Eric Bolling, the smug Tucker Carlson, and the perpetually angry Kimberley Guilfoyle. None of them have either the appeal, the depth of knowledge, or the broadcasting skills to carry their own show.
However, there is one person on the roster who, at any other network, would be on the short list for a primetime slot. Juan Williams has been with Fox for nearly twenty years. He has appeared on virtually all of their programs as a guest, as well as a co-host for some including the currently running The Five. He has also filled in as host on The O’Reilly Factor. There’s just one problem: Williams is considered to be the “liberal” on Fox News (although I would dispute that characterization), and despite their claim of fairness and balance, they would never hand over an hour of primetime to someone who wasn’t a committed conservative. Oh, and there’s one other thing that might be an obstacle for Fox: He’s black.
So Fox is either going to have to hand over some valuable TV real estate to one of their pedantic, third rate seat fillers, or go outside the family to bring on a radio nutcase like Mark Levin or Laura Ingraham. Or they could snag a bona fide cable star like Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson. And since most of the contracts in question will expire after the 2016 election, they might also consider from among the losers of that race. As I wrote a few months ago, Roger Ailes was asked about this and indicated an interest in Chris Christie and Carly Fiorina.
But I thought Ailes was missing the obvious choice, and someone with experience hosting a vapid television show that was comprised mainly of fakery: Donald Trump would be a promising choice to fill the whole primetime schedule all by himself (which he would probably insist upon). He has everything Fox News requires: He will shamelessly lie to advance right-wing propaganda. He will engage in childish fights with his guests. He will completely mutilate the news into an unrecognizable heap of bullshit. It’s pretty much what Fox’s primetime stars do now. And he has plenty of experience having been on Fox more than most of its regular anchors over the last ten months, so viewers won’t notice much of a change. And the last thing Fox wants to do is startle their audience into perhaps waking up.
There is something terribly fishy frying at Fox News. Their star primetime anchor, Megyn Kelly, has been making the media rounds and hinting at a possible separation between herself and her current employer. The rift first showed up in an interview wherein she said that she is not sure whether she will renew her contract at Fox. While Kelly says that she believes that Fox has backed her up during some recent controversies, she nevertheless is ambiguous about her future with the network. She told Variety that…
“I don’t know what’s going to happen. I’ve had a great 12 years here, and I really like working for Roger Ailes. I really like my show, and I love my team. But you know, there’s a lot of brain damage that comes from the job.”
Brain damage? That’s a peculiar way to characterize her work experience. Is she referring to her colleagues Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity? That would be understandable. Or is she addressing what Fox has called Donald Trump’s “sick obsession“ with her? Or is that how she feels after having to spew right-wing propaganda incessantly? She went on to say that she loves covering the news but that “I just don’t think that’s the perfect thing for me.”
Perhaps not. Judging from a subsequent interview with Katie Couric at the 2016 Women in the World Summit in New York City (video below), she seems to have some serious problems with the unprofessional conduct of her media peers, specifically with how they have covered Donald Trump. Although Kelly never directly indicts Fox News as being guilty of journalistic wrongdoing, what she describes as the failings of the press in general sound more like Fox than any other network.
For example, Couric referenced reporting that estimated the value of Trump’s free media coverage at nearly two billion dollars. She alluded to the “hand-wringing” going on at various media outlets over their responsibility for the excessive attention lavished on Trump and the impact it’s had on the race. Couric even noted comments by media executives who excused their fetish by saying that “Donald Trump is good for business,” and asked Kelly if that bothered her. Kelly answered that “It does bother me, and I don’t think it’s right.” She described some of the early coverage and then related a conversation she had with her executive producer:
“I could see all of the other media starting to do it, and I said when the post mortem is done on the coverage of Donald Trump, wherever this race goes, let’s make sure we’re on the side of the angels.”
I’m afraid that cloud has blown away. From there Kelly set about absolving herself of any of the Trump-worship that infected just about every news outlet. She said that “our show has not taken those pressers,” and that “We won’t wallpaper the show with a Donald Trump campaign event.” because “we also have to worry about our souls and journalism.” She noted that “it’s not fair” and that they “don’t do that for the other candidates.”
The problem with Kelly’s assessment is that it simply isn’t true. Donald Trump’s press events and stump speeches have been broadcast during the Kelly File’s time period. Perhaps that wasn’t a decision made by her or her producers, but she is not an innocent bystander in this. What’s more, no network has been more solicitous to Trump than Fox News. Kelly’s protestations are lame attempts to pretend that Fox didn’t create Trump. And she makes those excuses even while laying blame at her competition for making similar excuses.
“Now other journalists are trying to defend themselves by saying ‘Well we asked Ted Crux and he doesn’t say yes, we ask Donald Trump and he says yes.’ OK, that’s fine when it comes to interviews. That doesn’t explain all the phoners that the Sunday shows allow Trump and not the other candidates. Phoners! Fox News Sunday hosted by Chris Wallace is the only Sunday show that from the beginning said we’re not doing it.
Actually, Fox News Sunday did allow Trump to conduct interviews by phone, however they were the first Sunday show to put an end to it. But Kelly conveniently leaves out the fact that virtually every other program on Fox continues to this day letting Trump phone it in. Fox & Friends, Neil Cavuto, Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, etc., all take Trump’s calls. Fox News Sunday is just one hour a week and it isn’t even on the Fox News Channel (its first run is on the Fox Entertainment Network). But Kelly isn’t through yet.
“And not only that, we’re talking about the campaign events. When have you ever seen news stations take campaign events? We don’t do that for anybody. We don’t do that for Hillary. We don’t do that for Cruz. We never did it for Rubio or Scott Walker. Only one candidate. And the media would sit there and say ‘It’s amazing how the polls are just up, up…’ It’s like you’re putting your thumb on the scale.”
Excellent points, Kelly. It has been patently obscene watching the media slobber all over Trump and helping him to realize his narcissistic dreams. But serious media critics have been making these points for months. Where have you been all this time? And even as Kelly says all the right things in this interview, her network is still doing all of the wrong things about which she is complaining. She seems to be totally oblivious to her own criticisms.
Fox News crafted Donald Trump from the raw clay of their partisan ideology and their desire to manipulate the news to achieve their political goals. Kelly has been an integral part of the plan from the beginning of her tenure at Fox. Now she is suddenly denouncing the business model in which she has been so much a part. And by extension she is denouncing her colleagues who continue to engage in the shoddy behavior she is railing about. They are gonna love that.
The fact that Kelly is being so openly critical of the unprofessionalism of the people she works with and for, while at the same time is glaringly vague about her intentions to remain at the network, suggests that she has other ideas. Most likely she is dreaming of being the next Barbara Walters or Oprah, and she isn’t worried about burning a few bridges behind her on the way to that destination. Unfortunately, in the process she and most of the rest of the media have saddled America with the closest thing it has ever had to a fascist leading a major political party.
In recent weeks Megyn Kelly has received an abundance of media attention thanks to Donald Trump’s “sick obsession“ with the Fox News host. Regardless of her strident biases and disregard for journalistic ethics, the personal attacks on her by Trump are unwarranted and offensive. They demonstrate Trump’s inbred misogyny and unfitness for any public office. Even though Kelly herself has exploited her sex appeal to boost her ratings (and income), that is no excuse for Trump’s vile chauvinism.
This morning Hillary Clinton appeared on “The View” (video below) and addressed this topic with some potent and well-deserved criticism of Trump. She astutely pointed out that throughout his campaign he has “insulted everybody” and “demeaned everybody,” and has generally engaged in behavior that is divisive and rife with “hateful rhetoric.” She said in part…
“You know, he started, on his very first day, saying that all Mexican immigrants were rapists and criminals, right? And then he moved on to attack people with disabilities. He attacked John McCain, who’s a friend of mine, and said he wasn’t really a war hero. And then, of course, going after American Muslims and really drawing these lines.”
That’s a pretty good summary of Trump’s stump speech bigotry so far. Although she left out some significant moments like his embrace of the white supremacists who endorsed him, his acknowledgment that he isn’t bothered by being compared to Hitler, and his more recent position that women should be punished for having abortions. But Clinton should have left it at that. Unfortunately, she went on to say…
“And his attitude about, and what he has said about, so many women – the way he treated Megyn Kelly, who is a suburb journalist, right?”
No, that’s not right. Not by a long shot. Megyn Kelly is one of the most dangerous propagandists on a network that is crawling with them. She is brazenly partisan and shamelessly prejudiced. She is a more visually compelling version of conspiratorialist Glenn Beck. The stories she features are a collection of partisan tripe and manufactured outrages that have little basis in fact. From her near-obsession with the irrelevant New Black Panther Party, to her defense of an anti-Islam filmmaker as a “patsy” of the Obama administration, Kelly has been a non-stop, gushing flow of disinformation and gossip.
Kelly has, in fact, been especially vicious in her coverage of Clinton. She has spent countless hours asserting, without foundation, that Clinton lied about Benghazi. She aired numerous fact-free segments alleging that Clinton’s emails would land her in jail. She even went after Clinton on trivial pop culture matters like her interview with Lena Dunham. For more examples:
Kelly promulgated false accusations against then-Pennsylvania senate candidate Joe Sestak
Kelly asserted that Americans have “gotta get a little squeamish” about the prospect of being killed by drones.
Kelly told her colleague Bill O’Reilly that pepper spray used against student protesters was just “a food product, essentially.”
Kelly moderated a discussion that was based on a series of “Fox Facts” that were cribbed directly from a Republican National Committee press release.
Kelly featured a disreputable reporter with a history of violence (who was later arrested for sexually assaulting a four year old girl) in her frequent attacks on the funders of the Islamic Center that Fox derisively referred to as the “Ground Zero Mosque.”
Kelly misrepresented the results of a Fox News Opinion Dynamics poll to argue that Democrats are defying the will of the people.
Kelly helped to cover up the extra-marital affair of GOP senator John Ensign and failed to disclose her personal involvement in the story.
There is nothing wrong with Clinton holding Trump accountable for his noxious comments and ludicrous political positions. She is totally justified in castigating him for the pattern of hatred he exhibits toward women and others. However, it was completely unnecessary to throw a solicitous compliment to Kelly that she so clearly does not deserve. Clinton could easily make the point that Trump is a sexist pig without boosting the profile of a professional right-wing purveyor of disinformation. Would Clinton defend Sarah Palin from a sexist attack by praising her as a superb governor? We can only hope not. And while neither Palin nor Kelly should be subject to gender-based insults, neither should they be showered with false flattery in the process of defending them against jerkwads like Donald Trump.
Seven months ago Donald Trump was a participant in the first Republican primary debate on Fox News. He was treated exactly the same as every other candidate, but his reaction was unique in a way that has come to exemplify his trademark bluster and vulgarity. Since then Trump has engaged in a non-stop assault on Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly, whom he accused of being unfair by asking him to account for his own words.
In all the time that has gone by, Fox News barely said a thing about Trump’s contemptuous ranting. Today, however, Fox News appears to have had enough. Their turning point came after Trump posted another in his series of caustic tweets bashing Megyn Kelly. In the past few days he has taken to branding the Fox host as “Crazy Megyn,” belittling her as “highly over-rated,” and calling her program “unwatrchable.” And then he unleashed this direct attack aimed at Kelly and Fox’s most treasured asset, their audience:
“Everybody should boycott the @megynkelly show. Never worth watching. Always a hit on Trump! She is sick, & the most overrated person on tv.”
For some reason, after eight months of acrimony and bile that was an entirely one-sided feud by an irrationally enraged Trump, Fox News decided to fight back. They issued the following statement in a belated defense of their star anchor:
“Donald Trump’s vitriolic attacks against Megyn Kelly and his extreme, sick obsession with her is beneath the dignity of a presidential candidate who wants to occupy the highest office in the land. Megyn is an exemplary journalist and one of the leading anchors in America — we’re extremely proud of her phenomenal work and continue to fully support her throughout every day of Trump’s endless barrage of crude and sexist verbal assaults. As the mother of three young children, with a successful law career and the second highest rated show in cable news, it’s especially deplorable for her to be repeatedly abused just for doing her job.”
For Fox News to finally notice that Donald Trump’s juvenile antics are “beneath the dignity of a presidential candidate” is something of a revelation for them. Apparently slandering all Mexicans as rapists and criminals, mocking a reporter with a physical disability, embracing the support of white supremacists, proposing to ban all Muslims from entering the U.S., encouraging violence at his rallies, repeatedly swearing in public, and most recently floating the idea of his rabid legion of disciples rioting at the Republican convention if he isn’t crowned as the party’s nominee – apparently all of that wasn’t sufficient for Fox to recognize Trump’s total lack of anything resembling dignity. Maybe they were still waiting for him to fulfill his promise to “act presidential.” Good luck with that.
This isn’t the first time that Trump has advocated boycotting Kelly’s show or even the Fox Network completely. And it certainly wasn’t the first time that he had insulted Kelly in the most sexist terms. He has called her a “bimbo” and complained that her demeanor at the GOP debate was due to her menstrual cycle saying that “You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her … wherever.” The entirety of his tirades against Kelly seemed to have stemmed from that debate where she questioned him about his proclivity for hurling misogynistic insults at any women who dared to be less than deferential to him. It’s a grudge he has held onto tenaciously despite the fact that she never responded in kind.
So why did Fox suddenly come to Kelly’s aid after eight months of abuse from Trump? One possible reason is his decision to skip the next Fox News GOP debate (for the second time), which resulted in its cancellation. That will cost Fox a small fortune. More likely, though, it’s that Kelly recently complained to More Magazine that “I do wish that O’Reilly had defended me more in his interview with Trump.” She was referring to an episode of the O’Reilly Factor where Trump told O’Reilly that he had “zero respect” for Kelly, and O’Reilly just continued sucking up to Trump without offering any support to his network colleague. Perhaps that complaint filtered up to the executive suites and touched the withered heart of Fox CEO and cult leader Roger Ailes, who sent word down to his PR flacks to start backing her up. He has a lot invested in her and her show, which is the second highest rated program on Fox.
In any case, it’s fun to see Fox News, the media equivalent of the Republican Party Pravda, calling out the Republican’s front-runner for the nomination to run for president, as “crude and sexist” with a “sick obsession.” Does this mean that they will cease to give him millions of dollars more in free airtime (beyond the $30 million they’ve given him so far)? Does it mean they will hold him accountable for the plethora of blatant lies he’s told in his quest to be America’s dictator (see the Trump Bullshitopedia)? Don’t bet on it. Fox is still more concerned with advancing an extreme rightist agenda while raking in piles of cash from advertisers hooked on their ill-gotten ratings. Consequently, this bone they’ve thrown to Kelly will not likely alter the propaganda path they’ve trod for the last twenty years.
The tragi-comic relationship between Fox News and Donald Trump has traveled a twisted path for the past eight months. There have been episodes of drooling affection interspersed with fits of bitter feuding. The campaign thus far has seen Trump swear to boycott the network and lambast it as “disgusting” and “biased,” while hurling personal insults at its hosts and contributors. But none of that got in the way of his appearing on the network far more than any other candidate, and being treated with loving kindness while there.
Trump’s long-running, and one-sided, war with Megyn Kelly included some of the most brazenly misogynistic slurs, while his abuse of Fox regulars like Charles Krauthammer and Steven Hayes registered somewhere south of juvenile. Calling people “dopey” or “losers” is about as advanced as Trump’s vocabulary gets.
This morning Trump was visiting his close (Fox and) Friends when the subject of the upcoming debate was raised. It was then that Trump chose to announce that he would not be participating. This will be the second debate on Fox that Trump is skipping. That tells you just how scared he is of Megyn Kelly. He offered as an excuse that he had a commitment to give a speech at the AIPAC conference, an engagement that was made just a couple of days ago and long after the date of the debate was set.
Shortly after Trump bowed out of the debate, John Kasich released a statement saying that if Trump wasn’t going, then he wasn’t either. That left only Ted Cruz, which would have made for a pretty boring debate, so Fox called the whole thing off.
There are numerous questions that come to mind in the wake of these events. First of all, why didn’t Trump change the day or time of his AIPAC speech? It’s a three day conference and his participation was only recently confirmed. Secondly, why didn’t Fox offer to change the date of the debate? It hardly matters to them if it were a day or two later. Thirdly, what the fuck is wrong with Kasich? He would be much better off doing the debate without Trump. He would have much more airtime in a more substantive environment. And he needs the exposure more than Trump does. Cruz was willing to go ahead with just Kasich and both of them would have benefited from a discussion untarnished by the childish antics of Trump.
All things considered, it seems there was not much interest on the part of Fox to resolve any of these issues. If there were they could have gone on with the debate one way or another. And the only reason Fox would have for dropping the ball is that without Trump the ratings would suffer.
In the final analysis, Trump demonstrated that he is in charge of the debates and the media and pretty much everything else associated with the Republican campaign. Fox News and the Republican National committee are his playthings. If I were Fox CEO Roger Ailes or RNC chairman Reince Priebus I wouldn’t be able to show my face in public. They probably have “TRUMP” tattooed on their foreheads – or their wherever.