Fox News Carries Articles From Koch Bros-Funded “News” Service

An odd item appeared this morning on the Fox News web site attacking the progressive organization MoveOn.org. It was the sort of substanceless filler that generally appears on rabid anti-Obama fringe sites. Beneath a headline reading “MoveOn.org tries to sideline Tea Party over shutdown fears,” the article revealed the shocking news that MoveOn.org is a liberal outfit that is seeking donations. You don’t say?

In the few paragraphs posted, Fox included a defamatory reference to a passage in MoveOn’s email that said “If we play our cards right, 2013 could become known as the year the tea party relegated itself to the dustbin of history.” In an effort to manufacture a negative association, the article asserted that the phrase “dustbin of history” was “borrowed” from Leon Trotsky. In fact, the phrase and its variations had been in use long before Trotsky uttered it, and it has even been used by Republican candidate for sainthood, Ronald Reagan, who said in June of 1982 “The march of freedom and democracy will leave Marxism and Leninism on the ash heap of history.”

The reason that this article was loaded with such blatant conservative rhetoric quickly became apparent. The item was sourced to a web site called Watchdog.org that presents itself as sort of a wire service. However, Watchdog.org is actually a right-wing, propaganda-spewing project that is funded by the Koch brothers through their Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity. It is an unabashedly partisan source of slanted opinions and attack pieces. But now Fox is utilizing it as an affiliated reporting service. In effect, the Koch brothers have co-opted Fox to get their Tea Party agenda disseminated to Fox’s national audience in the guise of journalism.

Koch News
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As an example of the deceit employed by Watchdog.org, they castigated MoveOn for its early support from George Soros and for “putting a bulls-eye on the conservative Koch Brothers.” However, while defending the Koch brothers, nowhere in the article did the authors disclose that they actually work for the Koch brothers. That’s a pretty egregious omission. Furthermore, as a measure of their journalistic neutrality, the Watchdog reporter sought out quotes from four people for the article: the chair of the Tea Party Express, the chair and vice-chair of the Virginia Tea Party Patriots Federation, and the chair of Tea Party Fort Lauderdale. Fair and balanced, my ass.

A quick Google search on Fox News, and their related Fib Factory Fox Nation, turned up dozens of previous Watchdog-sourced articles that were published by Fox. Many of these articles are hit pieces on unions and environmental science, two issues that deeply interest the Koch brothers whose businesses have fought workers rights and have contributed to dirtying the air and water of every place they have a presence. In none of the articles did Fox provide disclosure of the Koch affiliation to the reporting.

It is clear that the infiltration by the Koch activists is complete. Fox News has long been associated with the conservative politics of the GOP, the Tea Party, and right-wing enterprises like Breitbart News, the Drudge Report, and even WorldNetDaily. But now they have turned a corner and embraced the brazen biases of an activist corporation with vested interests in the stories they pretend to cover. So now, in the warped universe of Fox News, corporations are not only people, they are also journalists. And if, like the Koch brothers, you can afford to create your own fake wire service, you can get fake news networks like Fox to distribute your PR.

Roger Ailes Kept Glenn Beck On The Air To Irritate MoveOn And Media Matters

Roger AilesThe new biography of Roger Ailes by his hand-picked fluffer, Zev Chafets, is getting some exposure in the press via reviews and excerpts. News Corpse recently reported that Ailes agreed to cooperate with Chafets in order to make a preemptive strike against a more critical look at his career by journalist Gabriel Sherman, whose book will be published in May. The New York Times published a scathing review that ripped Chafets for producing a book that…

“…reads like a long, soft-focus, poorly edited magazine article. For the most part Mr. Chafets serves as little more than a plastic funnel for Mr. Ailes’s observations […] he doesn’t ask his subject many tough questions about Fox News’s incestuous relationship with the Republican Party, its role in accelerating partisanship in our increasingly polarized society or the consequences of its often tabloidy blurring of the lines between news and entertainment.”

Now the New York Observer has posted another excerpt that reveals the lengths to which Ailes will go to annoy his enemies. Chafets writes that Ailes had already decided “he would have to get rid of Glenn Beck,” but he didn’t take any actions to do so for many months. This stalling occurred even though he was aware that “An advertising boycott organized by ColorOfChange.org hurt revenues, and Beck’s ratings declined.” This reference to the Color Of Change action is the first time that Ailes has admitted that Fox lost money due to the boycott. He previously made emphatic denials that there had been any impact on revenue. The reason Ailes gave for putting off Beck’s departure, according to Chafets, was that he “didn’t want to give MoveOn and Media Matters the satisfaction.”

So there you have it. The CEO of a news network had concluded that Beck’s rhetoric was divisive and “over the top,” but he permitted him to continue broadcasting his race-baiting, Nazi-inflected, conspiracy theories for several more months because he was afraid to give his critics something they might celebrate. Ailes would rather poison the airwaves (and the minds of his viewers) with lies and hatred than to let his ideological adversaries think they had scored a victory. That’s the true nature of Fox News and its philosophy of journalism.

It goes without saying that Ailes’ ego-driven decision-making was flawed from the start. Delaying the cancellation of Beck had zero effect on how his critics would respond. Removing Beck from the air was a victory whether it occurred in January or July. The only person whose “satisfaction” was affected was Ailes himself. Chafets never recognizes this fact and the excerpt irrationally concludes with him asserting that “Ailes was right again.”

Chafets further sucks up by saying that, as a result of his maneuvering, “Ailes could plausibly say that he had moved Fox safely away from the fringe.” Where he gets that notion from is a mystery. Particularly in light of Fox’s acquisitions since the election that include Mark Levin, Herman Cain, Scott Brown, and Erick Erickson (who once called a Supreme Court Justice a “goat-fucking child molester”). They join fringe all-stars Sean Hannity, Eric Bolling, and Steve Doocy, among others. This is not what most people would describe as plausibly moving away from the fringe, but it is the Fox way.

Hilarious MoveOn.org Video Rankles Right-Wing Prudes

A new video produced by MoveOn.org with help from Michael Moore is causing some right-wingers to reach for the smelling salts. The rest are falling off their chairs with outrage and frothing criticisms. What has them so unraveled?

OMG! Old people cussing. The world has finally succumbed to Satan’s call. What better evidence is there that Armageddon is imminent?

This little video is generating thousands of views, and millions of guffaws, across the InterTubes, but in the realm of the right it is stirring nothing but anxiety and outrage. It has been featured on Fox News on at least three programs: America Live with Megyn Kelly, Hannity, and the O’Reilly Factor. All of these “news” alerts castigated the video with vitriol usually reserved for terrorist bombings or Obama sightings.

Sean Hannity and Megyn Kelly both brought Fox News “Democrat” Kirsten Powers on to fulfill her mission of pretending to be a liberal while bashing her alleged allies. As the representative of the left she responded to Kelly’s leading questions saying “I don’t know why Michael Moore would do it, but even worse, I don’t know why MoveOn.org would be associated with it.”

Far worse, however, was Bill O’Reilly’s Talking Points Memo segment that he titled “Threats From The Far Left.” In his feverish denouncement of the video he said “So now the far left is threatening violence if President Obama loses the election.” Then he charged that President Obama is “culpable” for the video because he hasn’t condemned it. Really?

Someone needs to inform O’Reilly that this video is what we humans like to call “comedy.” It is not threatening any actual violence. For a demonstration of actual threats, just visit the Fox News community web site, Fox Nation. There you will find Fox fans literally yearning for Harry Reid to die; for Nancy Pelosi to have her skull crushed; cheering Arlen Specter’s death; advocating the assassination of President Obama. Since O’Reilly has never condemned these remarks he must be regarded as culpable for them.

The zealous acrimony expressed by these puritanical louts is almost as funny as the video. They clearly have a hard time discerning the difference between comedy and reality. And that may explain why they are unable to see the humor in this video but they can take Mitt Romney seriously.

ADDENDUM: For an idea of what the Fox News crowd thinks is funny, note this item posted on Fox Nation:

Fox Nation

The rating given to this article by the Fox Nationalists is “Funny.” Apparently they regard bad news for American businesses and workers as a joke. These cretins actually celebrate the hardships of fellow citizens. For the record, Fox failed to note that GM’s earnings statement was actually better than analysts expected and the stock rose almost 10% after the release. It was an indication of an improving economy. But that didn’t stop Fox from latching on to what they could spin as bad news and lifting the hearts of their America-hating audience.

Fox Nation Scum Call Obama A Nazi

Despite its long history of juvenile insults and rabid hyperbole, the level of pitiful ignorance and seething hatred at Fox Nation still never fails to astonish.

This morning the Fox Nationalists featured a story with the fanatical and false headline “MoveOn.org Scum Call Ryan a Nazi.” The accompanying video was an interview of a few Romney/Ryan protesters, none of whom called anyone a Nazi. Perhaps Fox Nation posted the wrong video, but the video they posted did not show anyone calling Paul Ryan a Nazi. Nor was there any evidence that the protest was organized by MoveOn. Although there were MoveOn members present, none of them said anything remotely derogatory or controversial. Nevertheless, the Fox Nationalists attributed a Nazi reference that does not exist to a MoveOn member who never said it.

Fox Nation

The video on Fox Nation was titled “Move.org’s uninformed supporters.” It was a new episode in a continuing series by an ultra-right-wing Florida web site called the Shark Tank. Their M.O. is to ambush citizens engaging in their Constitutionally protected right to free speech and attempting to make them look foolish. Granted, that is something that both sides of the political spectrum can do with selective editing, making sure to leave the better informed protesters on the cutting room floor. But in this case it’s Shark Tank’s “correspondent” that looks foolish as he criticizes the protester’s sign that says that “Bain pays Romney millions while workers make the minimum wage.” He then tells the protester that the sign is wrong and that she must have meant “paid” not “pays” because Romney hasn’t hasn’t worked for Bain for a decade.

First of all, the Shark Tanker doesn’t seem to have any problem with the content of the sign except for its present tense description of Romney’s compensation. So apparently he thinks that it was OK for Romney to exploit low-income workers in order to enrich himself so long as it was done in the past. But more importantly, the sign is actually correct because, even after all these years, Romney is still collecting millions from Bain Capital.

“In the final deal of his private equity career, Romney negotiated an agreement with his former partners that has paid him a share of Bain’s profits ever since, bringing his family millions in income each year…”

So the Shark Tanker is wrong on the facts. And the Fox Nationalists regurgitate his mistakes without bothering to verify any of it – you know, the way an actual journalist would. What’s more, they cap the phony article with a false charge of Nazi-baiting that inevitably results in a flurry of Fox community members calling Obama a Nazi. So while the article’s headline was meant to denigrate liberals for descending into vitriolic name-calling, it was only the Fox audience that actually engaged in that repulsive behavior. I wish I could say I was surprised.

The Bill O’Reilly Lecture: On Making Statements You Can’t Back Up

If there is anyone in the media whose experience and integrity has earned them the respect of their peers and the right to provide guidance to others – well, it isn’t this guy:

Bill O'Reilly

Indeed, Bill O’Reilly is proof that journalistic standards have waned. It’s nice of him to admit it. He is perhaps best known for telling guests to “Shut up,” and for declaring imaginary wars against holidays. Last night on his Fox News program he decided that he would promote himself to professor and lecture a guest on the standards of journalistic conduct, a field he has studiously avoided.

The guest was liberal commentator Leslie Marshall. In response to O’Reilly’s diatribe against Occupy Wall Street protesters, Marshall noted that the Tea Party had many of the same problems that O’Reilly assigned to the Occupiers. Specifically she raised the issue of the Koch brothers and their role in creating and promoting the Tea party.

Incensed, O’Reilly demanded to know whether Marshall had any direct evidence that the Koch brothers had bankrolled the Tea Party:

“Leslie, you are a Fox News contributor, you have a responsibility. Can you prove that the Koch brothers are tied into the Tea Party financially? Can you? […] I want to remind you not to make statements you can’t back up on this network. We don’t do that on this network. Other networks do. We don’t.”

The involvement of the Koch brothers in the Tea Party is not a secret. They flaunt it. Their Americans for Prosperity pays the expenses for speakers like Sarah Palin to travel the country on buses painted with Tea Party logos. Unfortunately, Marshall was ill-prepared to respond. She stumbled and conceded that she had no “check in hand.” That led O’Reilly to declare his hollow victory and tell her, in effect, to shut up as he turned to another guest with whom he agrees.

More interesting is O’Reilly’s arrogant scolding that making statements that cannot be backed up is not permitted at Fox News. Of course, there are warehouses full of documentation that reveal the absurdity of that assertion. From death panels to birth certificates to global cooling to monkey mercenaries (I’m not kidding), the list is too long to condense here. However, for convenient evidence to the contrary, all you would have to do is rewind your DVR to watch O’Reilly’s “Talking Points Memo” delivered at the top of this program. In it he castigated the Occupy movement as pawns of nefarious behind the scenes power brokers:

“These people are being exploited by powerful radical organizations. They are being used in the hopes of embarrassing the USA. The Occupy Wall Street movement is not – is not – a spontaneous protest against inequality. It is a well thought out campaign to bring down the infrastructure of this country. To turn us into a Western European type entitlement state. That’s what George Soros, MoveOn, the SEIC (sic), and many far-left journalists want. And they are using the protest to that end.”

And what did O’Reilly have to back up any of that? Not a dang thing. MoveOn and some unions (including SEIU) have expressed support for the movement, but they were not involved in organizing or directing it. Soros has no association with it whatsoever. And the allegation that the the goal of these clandestine conspirators is to “bring down the infrastructure of this country,” must be O’Reilly’s attempt to fill Glenn Beck’s shoes now that Beck has descended into Internet purgatory.

It’s rather astonishing to watch O’Reilly pivot from hurling a load of nonsense like this in a prepared segment, without backing it up, to chastising a guest for not having reference materials to affirm comments made extemporaneously in a live debate. But that’s not even the worst of it. O’Reilly’s opening segment also attacked MoveOn for producing a video to solicit support for a Marine who was seriously injured by police at the Occupy Oakland demonstration.

“Enter the radical MoveOn organization which is funding some of the occupiers. It took just hours for them to produce this video. [MoveOn Video] Now it’s obvious that MoveOn was ready to exploit any violence so that they could portray the USA as a police state. That is part two of the Occupy movement. First demonize capitalism, tell the world how unfair the U.S. economic system is. Then show the world the cops are fascists. Disgracefully the mayor of Oakland, Jean Quan, caved into the radical left. [Quan Video] Nice job Mayor. Throwing your entire police department under the bus. That’s what real leadership is all about.”

For some reason O’Reilly is surprised that MoveOn was able to post a one minute long video within a few hours of a breaking news event. That shows how little O’Reilly knows about the news business. But in telling this story, O’Reilly criticizes the video only after cutting out 22 critical seconds – the entire portion that showed Scott Olsen, the injured Marine, and the police assault on the demonstrators who tried to help him. (See the whole MoveOn video here). Removing that footage distorts the context of Mayor Quan’s statement. She was not apologizing for the police behavior, or throwing them under the bus. She was expressing regret for the grievous harm suffered by a veteran who was demonstrating peacefully.

O’Reilly’s objective here is to characterize the Occupy protesters as violent thugs itching to incite a riot. Rush Limbaugh posited the same theory on his radio show:

“They are hoping some sort of Kent State type massacre is gonna take place. They are hoping that there’s gonna be some kind of civil disobedience. They are hoping that general unrest is gonna take place, a riot is gonna start, the cops are gonna go in there to try to quell the riot, and I think that’s what they’re hoping for. This is the chaos that everybody is looking for.”

The irony of Limbaugh articulating such a devious plot is sublime. A few years ago he expressed his hopes for the Democratic National Convention in Denver saying “Screw the World! Riot in Denver!”

“[T]he dream end of this is that this keeps up to the convention and that we have a replay of Chicago 1968, with burning cars, protests, fires, literal riots, and all of that. That’s the objective here.”

Rush Limbaugh

Let’s face it, it’s miscreants like Limbaugh and O’Reilly who are hoping for chaos and violence. The protesters of the Occupy movement have been consistent in their insistence on peaceful behavior. That contrasts with Tea Partiers who carried guns to rallies or signs saying that “We came unarmed THIS time.”

Bill O’Reilly does not have the moral standing to criticize other people’s intentions or behavior. His personal history is rife with examples of low character and shamelessness. And so far as lecturing others on making statements that are not backed up, he really needs to shut up. In fact, that would hold true for everyone on Fox News.

Equal Time For The American Dream

CNN Tea PartyLast December CNN announced that they would be co-hosting a Republican debate with the Tea Party Express. That ridiculous idea was something put together under the new leadership of Ken Jautz who was promoted to head CNN after distinguishing himself at sister station Headline News. At HLN Jautz was responsible for such journalistic masterstrokes as The Nancy Grace Program. And of course he will always be remembered as the man who brought Glenn Beck to television.

When the Tea Party Express partnership was unveiled I responded by noting that the group was a corrupt branch of a fake movement that was nothing more than a bunch of ultra-conservative GOP malcontents:

“They were created by Sal Russo and his Republican PR firm, Russo Marsh, and their brief history is fraught with scandal. Rival Tea Party groups were harshly critical of them for directing nearly half of the money they raised from citizen supporters to Russo’s firm. Their former spokesman, Mark Williams, was forced to resign after publishing a racially offensive article on his web site.”

Nevertheless, CNN proceeded with this embarrassing endeavor which will air Monday, September 12. America will have to sit though a farce that elevates the Tea Party to a status they have not earned on their own, seeing as how they have an approval rating in the twenties. Even amongst Republicans they are not particularly well liked. But that didn’t stop CNN from broadcasting Michele Bachmann’s Tea Party response to President Obama’s State of the Union message.

The blatant unfairness of this led me to ask “Would CNN ever consider partnering with MoveOn.org for a Democratic debate?” That seemed unthinkable at the time, which is precisely the point I was making. But now The American Dream Movement has stepped up to assert the same principle of fairness. They are petitioning CNN to give them equal time to respond after the President’s speech on Thursday before congress. And they make a compelling case:

“Now it’s only fair for CNN to air the American Dream Movement’s progressive response to the president’s major jobs speech on Thursday.

The American Dream Movement includes scores of groups representing millions of members who’ve been out in force for months campaigning for jobs, not cuts. In July, we had twice as many gatherings as the tea party had when they launched.”

If CNN would recognize a phony organization that was invented by Fox News and the Koch brothers, and is a adjunct division of the Republican Party, they ought to give some consideration to a legitimate grassroots group of citizens who represent real people and working families.

Please support this effort by signing the petition:

Tell CNN to Give the American Dream Movement Equal Time.

If they would do it for Michele Bachmann and the Tea Party, they should do it for the American Dream Movement. And what’s more, they should partner with the American Dreamers to co-host a debate in the upcoming election. It’s only fair.

Fox Nation vs. MoveOn: Indoctrinating Children

Fox Nation - MoveOn

The Fox Nation is very upset about an insidiously cute video from MoveOn.org that features kids advocating a Contract for the American Dream. Check out this horrifying example of child abuse for yourself:

Shocking, isn’t it? The gang at Fox & Friends thinks so too. The posting on Fox Nation displays the Fox & Friends segment, not the whole MoveOn video. And the response from the Fox Nationalists is typically restrained – to Nazi references, allegations of Marxist propaganda, and accusations against Obama who had nothing to do with it. For example:

Fox Nation - MoveOn

Of course, no one on the right would ever consider exploiting children for political purposes.

Fox Nation - Move On

Slandering the MoveOn kids as Nazis is standard operating procedure for the right. You only need to go back a couple of weeks to hear Glenn Beck saying that scores of slaughtered kids in Norway are “like the Hitler youth.” By the way, if you haven’t yet protested Beck’s repulsive comments, here is a list of his radio affiliates. Be sure to let them know that you refuse to listen to their station or patronize their advertisers while Beck is on the air.

Rupert Murdoch: Glenn Beck Is Right. Obama Is A Racist

News Corp. Chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch gave a wide-ranging interview to his own Sky News Australia. He is apparently not in a very good mood.

The interview touched on the so-called “war” between Fox News and the White House. Murdoch was asked a question about assertions that Fox is “an arm of the Republican Party.” Murdoch responded saying, “Everyone knows that’s nonsense” and charging that White House press secretary, Robert Gibbs, is “a very young, inexperienced guy.” Of course, it was White House communications director, Anita Dunn, who made the comment, not Gibbs. Murdoch continued his defense of the fairness of Fox by bashing President Obama. When asked how the President was doing, Murdoch glibly replied with one word: “Badly.” He then claimed that only a couple of commentators on the network were presenting opinions. However, we know that isn’t true. Nevertheless, he falsely asserted that…

“We have on Republicans and we have on Democrats and we have them debate. The other networks only have Democrats, or something to the left of them.”

The truth, however, is that Fox does not have now, nor ever has had, a program hosted solely by a Democrat/liberal. CNN has Lou Dobbs, Nancy Grace, and until a few months ago, Glenn Beck. MSNBC currently has a three hour morning show hosted by conservative former Republican congressman Joe Scarborough. They have also employed Tucker Carlson, Laura Ingraham, and Michael Savage. Despite the evident dishonesty by Murdoch, he still defends his network’s balance. When the interviewer inquired as to characterizations of the President as Stalinist, Murdoch firmly objected saying,

“No no, not Stalin I don’t think. I don’t know who that is. Not one of our people.”

Oh really?

This screenshot is from the Glenn Beck show wherein Beck displayed pictures of Hitler, Stalin, and Lenin, and asked, “Is this where we’re headed?” But perhaps the most shocking moment in the interview was when Murdoch was asked about Beck calling the President a racist. Despite the widespread condemnation of Beck, the loss of eighty advertisers, and even Murdoch’s qualification that the comment may not have been proper, Murdoch openly and unequivocally declared that he agrees with Beck.

“He [Obama] did make a very racist comment about blacks and whites and so on. Which he said in his campaign he would be completely above. And it was something that, perhaps, shouldn’t have been said about the President, but if you actually assess what he [Beck] was talking about, he was right.”

So now we have an unadulterated admission from Murdoch that he believes the President is a racist. If there was ever a time to make Murdoch pay for the blatant bias and hostility for which he and his enterprise are responsible, it is now. If Beck can lose eighty advertisers for calling Obama a racist, what penalty should Murdoch pay?

Two organizations have already embarked on protest activities aimed at Fox News. Color of Change is the group that successfully persuaded advertisers to shun Beck. MoveOn has a petition requesting that Democratic representatives avoid fox News. Both of the groups should now escalate the actions to include all Fox programs and all Democratic and progressive politicians, advisors, consultants, etc.

Fox News, and the rest of the Murdoch empire, has absolutely no credibility or integrity. They do not deserve to be regarded as a news enterprise. They have demonstrated their overt prejudice and their intent on being rightist advocates, not journalists. Murdoch says that he wants to be remembered as…

“…someone who has contributed to the world and has tried to make the world more interesting and better. And used the media to good effect.”

Well he certainly has made a contribution. He has contributed Glenn Beck and Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity and more division and hatred than any media organization before him. And he has used the media to good effect. Well…it’s good if you like people shouting down free speech at town hall meetings and carrying posters of the President with Hitler mustaches. So it is our duty to treat them the same way we would treat partisans like the National Review, the Weekly Standard, WorldNetDaily, the Drudge Report, or any other avowed opponent. It is time to make a stand.

Stay the HELL off of Fox News: Starve The Beast!

Update: Media Matters has started an online petition calling on Murdoch to apologize. I don’t think that he will do so, but I do think it helps to send a message to him and the rest of the media that his remarks are objectionable and inappropriate. So go sign the petition.

Update II: Gary Ginsberg, a spokesman for Murdoch told Politico that Murdoch “does not at all, for a minute, think the president is a racist.” Sort of makes you wonder what he meant when he said that Glenn Beck was right when he called Obama a racist. But Ginsberg refused any further comment.

MoveOn.org Petition Calls On Democrats To Stay Off Fox

What took so damn long? MoveOn.org has just announced a petition drive to persuade Democrats to Stay Off Fox.

This could be a turning point in the campaign to isolate Fox News and to re-brand them as a partisan purveyor of propaganda. As my regular readers may know, I have been calling for all Democrats and progressives to stay the HELL off of Fox News for more than two years. I launched my Starve the Beast campaign in August of 2007, by saying:

“The problem with Fox News is not that it’s a right-wing platform for war, intolerance, and greed; it isn’t that it’s spreading propaganda in support of an out-of-control White House that is hoarding unprecedented levels of power; it isn’t that they engage in relentless and unfounded attacks on Democrats, progressives, and the rest of the 72% of Americans that Fox portrays as unpatriotic because they disapprove of Mr. Bush and his war; it isn’t even that it sits at the center of a politically charged media empire run by Rupert Murdoch, a monopolistic ideologue with no allegiance to country or the common good.”

The problem with Fox News is that people grant them far more credit and influence than they deserve. They are a niche player in the cable news universe. Their highest rated program (The O’Reilly Factor) has fewer viewers than the lowest rated broadcast news program (CBS/Couric). They reach an audience of about 3 million, which is less than 1% of the population. In Starve the Beast, and its two follow ups, I painstakingly made the case that Democrats can and should avoid Fox News. There is almost nothing to be gained by patronizing them.

Now MoveOn.org has come aboard:

President Obama is fighting back against FOX. The White House communications director said FOX is a “wing of the Republican Party…let’s not pretend they’re a news network.”

To draw attention to its biased coverage, President Obama will not appear on FOX for the rest of this year. Can you sign this petition asking Democrats to support President Obama’s stance by staying off FOX as long as he does?

A compiled petition with your individual comment will be presented to Democratic senators and representatives.

MoveOn’s petition drive was inspired by the recent courageous comments by White House communications director, Anita Dunn, who said that Fox is “the communications arm of the Republican Party.” That simple and obvious observation has sparked a dialogue that, in the end, will reinforce the public perception that Fox is merely masquerading as a news enterprise. For her trouble, Dunn has been smeared by Fox presenters, particularly Glenn Beck, who has falsely asserted that she worships Mao Zedong. That is especially ironic considering that Beck himself was caught on video confessing his idolization of Adolf Hitler (Call me, Glenn. Tell that I’m wrong).

My original Starve the Beast column ended with a plea to my political compatriots that still reflects the urgency of embargoing Fox News and treating them as the partisan prevaricators that they are:

“Please stop hurting our cause by appearing on Fox News. Rupert Murdoch and his media megaphone is openly hostile to our agenda and our representatives. They will only use your appearance to distort your message and derail our mission. Studies have proven that their audience is unreceptive, and even antagonistic, to us. Your appearance will be rewarded more with ridicule than respect.”

Many thanks to MoveOn for coming aboard and giving this movement a much needed boost.

Bill O’Reilly: MoveOn Forced CNBC To Hire Howard Dean

Bill O’Reilly gets funnier by the day (or scarier, depending on your perspective). His latest broadcast falsehood is that MoveOn.org has wielded its mighty power to “force” NBC/Universal CEO Jeff Zucker to hire Howard Dean as a contributor to CNBC. This display of domination was allegedly in response to conservative commentaries by CNBC’s Jim Cramer and Mark Haines.

Even if someone was stupid enough to believe that a relatively small political activist group could boss around the chief of a major entertainment and news empire, the accusation is completely without foundation. In fact, Sam Stein of the Huffington Post, who did some actual reporting, unlike O’Reilly, found that:

“…the decision to bring the recently departed DNC Chair on board, the source says, was finalized well before the current wave of CNBC-angst. So while grassroots groups have sprouted up in recent weeks petitioning the network to make wholesale changes, Dean’s hiring can’t be viewed as a direct result of public pressure.”

O’Reilly’s stupidity, however, extends even further. The source he quotes for his baseless and false allegation is Noel Sheppard. O’Reilly identifies him as the author of a column in the Washington Examiner. What O’Reilly doesn’t tell you is that Sheppard also happens to be the Associate Editor of NewsBusters, an arm of the uber-conservative Media Research Center. The MRC was just revealed to be the source for many ideologically twisted stories on Fox News, a fact that former anchor Brit Hume confessed just last week. Now O’Reilly has admitted that he too is disseminating MRC propaganda as if it were news. It should be noted that neither O’Reilly nor Sheppard produced any evidence that either MoveOn or Zucker played any role in Dean’s employment.

As if that were not enough, O’Reilly went on to disparage Dean saying that he “know[s] little about economics.” Where O’Reilly gets the gumption to knock Dean’s credentials is beyond me. Dean served as governor of the state of Vermont for twelve years. For a portion of time he was Chairman of the National Governor’s Association. Prior to that he was a Wall Street stock broker. And his father was a top executive at Dean Witter Reynolds. But O’Reilly, who expounds on economics every day is a former tabloid TV news reader. So on whose advice would you prefer to rely?

On the comedy tip, O’Reilly is even having trouble organizing his outrage. For years he has been hammering NBC and its cable units as being irredeemably compromised by wicked leftists. He reveled in characterizing them as despicable purveyors of group-think. The following quotation, however, reveals a psyche that is sorely starving for air.

“Now many on Wall Street believe Jeff Immelt, the CEO of General Electric which owns NBC, has completely lost control of his company, including the actions of Mr. Zucker. The evidence of that is that MSNBC is supporting and promoting the same far-left loons that are hammering the sister outfit CNBC. I mean, how rich is this?”

First of all, the “many on Wall Street believe” canard is an example of a lazy intellect. O’Reilly won’t, and can’t identify these imaginary critics. Secondly, his complaint that MSNBC is critical of CNBC contradicts his contention that all NBC units think alike. Even worse, by mocking this diversity of opinion, he is implying that he would prefer it if they did think alike. Of course, he would prefer no such thing. He would simply go back to accusing them of being blindly and uniformly liberal. It’s the O’Reilly way