Foxophobia: What If Fox News Finds Out?

Last month I received a fundraising email from the Center for the Study of Political Graphics. The Center collects, preserves, and exhibits posters relating to historical and contemporary movements for social change and has a library of more than 75,000 items. The solicitation noted the importance of individual donations due to the difficulty of obtaining funding from the government agencies that administer grants to the arts and archival organizations.

One particular part of the email was jarring for what it revealed about the decision making process of this administration. In an inquiry regarding their grant application, the Center’s director, Carol Wells, sought to gauge their chances of being successful and had this exchange with an agency representative:

Just before our most recent Federal submission we again asked about the political content and were told, “as you are writing the proposal, ask yourself this question:

“What if Fox News found out that U.S. tax dollars were being used to support your project. How would it look, how would it fly?”

HypersensitiveThe notion that Fox News’ mindset should serve as the benchmark for whether prospective arts endeavors are deserving of our tax dollars is insane, and more than a little frightening. And if it is difficult to accept that there is someone presently working for a government agency who is employing that criteria, then how much more frightening would it be to learn that this malignant perspective has spread through much of the body of our government? To be sure, all administrations are sensitive to reactions from the media, the public, and political peers, but for this administration to defer to Fox News, given their history, is mind boggling.

Barack Obama has been under attack by Fox News since before he was even elected. He was the subject of delusional allegations that questioned his patriotism, his citizenship, and his faith. The absurdities Fox promoted ranged from trivial associations with a former preacher to noxious accusations of “Palling Around with Terrorists.” It was a non-stop barrage that continued throughout the campaign and into his presidency where, if you can believe it, it escalated further.

On inauguration day Fox News anchors posited that Obama was not actually president because Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts flubbed the oath of office. It went downhill from there. As president, Obama was called a “racist with a deep seated hatred of white people.” He has been castigated as a communist, a fascist, an atheist, and perhaps worst of all, an elitist. The vitriol exceeded all bounds of civility. It was the soil from which the Tea Party sprouted along with the portrayal of Obama as an enemy of the state who is seeking to deliberately destroy the country.

Early on the administration recognized the toxic environment that was being created. There was a short-lived embargo of administration officials appearing on Fox. Anita Dunn, the former White House director of communications, told Howard Kurtz on CNN that Fox News is “a wing of the Republican Party.” Both Rahm Emmanuel and David Axelrod correctly observed that Fox “is not a news organization.” But the courage demonstrated by these positions quickly dissipated as the White House shifted tactics from confrontation to capitulation.

In one of the first examples of the Obama team folding under pressure from Fox News, Van Jones, a White House advisor to the Council on Environmental Quality, resigned subsequent to a relentless smear campaign by Glenn Beck and others at Fox. Jones was followed out the door by Yosi Sergant, Director of Communications for the National Endowment for the Arts, who was similarly hounded by Fox.

Perhaps the most egregious moral buckling was exhibited in the administration’s disengagement from Agriculture Department official Shirley Sherrod. In a video originally disseminated by the terminally choleric Andrew Breitbart, Sherrod was falsely portrayed as discriminating racially against a white farmer who had sought assistance from the department. It was later revealed that the video was deceptively edited to give an impression that was diametrically opposed to reality. After being featured in various segments on Fox News and elsewhere, Sherrod was asked to resign. Sherrod told the press that there was an urgency to the request due to the fear that the controversy was “going to be on Glenn Beck tonight.”

For his part, Glenn Beck theorized that the whole affair was a premeditated plot by the White House to “destroy the credibility of Fox News?” As if that hadn’t already been accomplished by Fox News itself (and particularly Beck) without any need for help from the White House. Nevertheless, leave it to Beck to concoct a theory that borders on psychosis.

This knee-jerk Foxophobia is evident in policy as well as personnel. Fox’s harping on issues ranging from the closure of Guantanamo Bay to the inclusion of so-called “death panels” in the the health care bill, resulted in those initiatives being abandoned. Obama was often seen in retreat after Fox newsers complained about the handling of the Census, the arrest of a Harvard professor, or the non-mosque that was not at Ground Zero. At times it appeared as if Fox had a greater impact on Obama’s agenda than his cabinet – or public opinion.

By acquiescing to a de facto Fox litmus test you produce scenarios wherein Fox objects to an art exhibit at the Smithsonian Institute, followed by Congress drafting legislation to defend the Smithsonian. Or NPR terminates a correspondent for making offensive statements at his other job on Fox, and Congress moves to defund NPR. Do we really want a network that specializes in conservative tabloid sensationalism conducting political payback like this?

Now, after all of the dishonest, hyperbolic, caterwauling from Fox, Obama is rewarding that network with an exclusive interview preceding the Superbowl. And more disturbing than just the fact that Obama would sit down with this phony news network, the Fox anchor pegged to conduct the interview is not one of their supposed journalists like Bret Baier or Wendell Goler. It is Bill O’Reilly, someone even Fox doesn’t regard as a newsman. In fact, O’Reilly’s boss, Roger Ailes, said that it’s a mistake to look at Fox News Channel’s primetime opinion shows and say they represent the channel’s journalism.” What would Fox think if Obama gave the interview to Rachel Maddow? How would that fly?

Moreover, the real mistake is for any Democrat or progressive to agree to appear on Fox News. They will only be abused while they lend their credibility to a network that hasn’t earned any of their own. Nevertheless, President Obama still sees fit to sit still for a non-journalist on a network that portrays him as an alien socialist bent on collapsing the nation’s economy and the nation itself.

This administration needs to take more seriously the threat presented by a massive, international media conglomerate that has made no secret of its disdain for the President and his agenda. And it is in its own best interest to cease kowtowing to Fox and being so concerned about what they think of his people and policies. Criticisms from Fox should be heralded by administration spokespeople. They should be embraced and repeated (and mocked) at every opportunity. They should be regarded as affirmation that you’re on the right track.

Conversely, bureaucratic flunkies like the one who quoted above, who worry about whether something will fly with Fox News, need to be rooted out and reeducated. If there is a test for whether the administration should proceed with an appointment or a policy initiative it should be based on the merits, not on what will happen when Fox News finds out.

Rupert Murdoch Censors Glenn Beck – The China Chronicles

When a courageous speaker of truth emerges from the forest of lies that is modern media, the risk is ever present that censorship, suppression, or worse could occur. Sadly, that is the case today. Glenn Beck produced an episode of his program that continued his valiant search for communists burrowing into the woodwork of America like subversive termites eating away at the foundation of our national home. However, this episode has mysteriously disappeared. Fortunately, I have acquired a transcript (h/t Esquire) of the “Lost Episode” that reveals perhaps the most insidious enemy of freedom yet unveiled by Beck.

[Editor: Everything below regarding Murdoch and China is true]

GLENN BECK: My viewers know that I am not the sort of guy who resorts to sensationalism and hyperbole, but today’s show is going to cause blood to shoot out of your eyes. You will totally freak out and very likely wet your pants, as I did when I found this out. In short, there are forces in the media who are directing the course of our nation’s future, and it’s not who you think it is.

If you think this country is great, but ogres are hiding under the bed waiting to defile you while you sleep, then wake up – and come on, follow me.

Hello America. I am going to ask you to pay special attention to today’s program because this is going to get complicated. Keep a pencil and notepad handy. You will want to take notes.

On previous shows I’ve warned you about the extreme radicals and avowed communists that are holding important positions in our government. I’ve warned you about conspiracies like ACORN and the National Endowment for the Arts. I’ve exposed Van Jones and Mark Lloyd and Valerie Jarrett. I know, the liberal elite are going to complain that I only go after black folks. “Oh, he’s a racist. He doesn’t like the darkies.” But that isn’t true. I also exposed the safe schools czar, Kevin Jennings, and he is a white fag…I mean gay. The point is that radicals are taking root at every level of government. People who hate the principles we devout Christians hold dear.

But today’s program is about more than just the government. Oh yes, it touches every part of the government but it has maybe even more power in this country and around the world. It’s the media.

When I talked earlier this year about how we, the patriots and truthtellers, are actually surrounding all of the weasels and the traitors, I meant every word. Barack Hussein Obama’s czars have been dispatched to every corner of Washington’s power grid. But in the case of the media, it really is surrounding us. It’s everywhere. In our homes, our cars, our offices, our fast food restaurants. It is being fed into us intravenously. We are all being indoctrinated 24 hours a day, seven days a week. I don’t want to scare you, but I’m speaking to you right now on the media. Sure, the liberal pansies will cry “But aren’t you a big, rich, media star, with all your TV and radio and books?” And I shout right back at them “Well maybe I am, but you’re forgetting that I rarely make any sense and besides, shut your friggin pie hole!”

I want to tell you all something that I just recently learned from the guy who delivers my pizza. He stumbled on an article in that bastion of progressive propaganda, the New York Times, that was hidden under a pile of Hefty bags in the alley behind his shop. Now how did it get there? Hmmm? A copy of a major American newspaper, rolled up and stuffed in the trash? What are they trying to hide? Quite a lot, as you’ll soon see.

Now, it is not commonly known that the biggest media mogul in the world is a fellow named Rupert Murdoch. He runs more TV and newspaper businesses throughout the world than anyone, but still complains about the bias in the mainstream press. I mean, duh. Who does he think he is, the Pennysaver? He’s Australian by birth, but he went to live in socialist Europe, and later came to the United States. When he wanted to buy an American TV network, he got his socialist friends in the Congress to make him a U.S. citizen, which was a prerequisite for owning a network. After receiving that special treatment, he made sure to bash any other immigrants who aspired to live and work the greatest country in the world.

Then he began to build what is the most frightening corporate empire you can ever imagine. Now, the problem isn’t just that it’s big, because I happen to love big business and free enterprise. The problem is who he is in business with.

This Murdoch is very tightly entwined with one of America’s most vicious enemies. The People’s Republic of China. This association begins in his own family. His third wife, Wendi Deng, is a mainland Chinese who once worked for his Hong Kong-based satellite broadcast company, Star TV. Star TV was run by James Murdoch, Rupert’s son. Um, OK. James is the guy who complained that western reporters in China supported “destabilizing forces” that are “very, very dangerous for the Chinese government.” So let me get this straight. He was defending the communists against reporters from America? OK.

Under the supervision of Rupert and James, Star TV bent its programming to favor the brutal Chinese regime. In 1994 it dropped BBC News, which had frequently angered Chinese officials. One of the reports that angered the Chinese was of the brave soul who famously stood up to a flank of Chinese tanks in Tiananmen Square. The BBC replayed that video too much, so Murdoch had the network banished.

By cooperating with the communist censors in China, Murdoch earned the friendship of some very important people. The article in the Times noted that…

“His courtship has made him the Chinese leadership’s favorite foreign media baron. He has dined with former President Jiang Zemin in the Zhongnanhai leadership compound in Beijing and repeatedly met other members of the ruling Politburo in Beijing, New York and London. Television channels affiliated with Mr. Murdoch beam more programming into China than any other foreign media group.”

Uh oh. So this relationship was a boon to his financial interests. Do you think that the $50 billion ad market in China had anything to do with that? I don’t know, I’m just asking. But Murdoch was awfully cozy with these guys. His book publishing division, HarperCollins, was kind enough to put out a book of fawning propaganda about the former leader, Deng Xiaoping, that was written by his daughter, Deng Rong. He also halted publication of a book by former Hong Kong governor Chris Patten that was critical of the Chinese. Hmmm. Propaganda good – criticism bad.

In 1996, Murdoch entered a joint venture with Liu Changle, a onetime radio host for the People’s Liberation Army. And you know those radio hosts. They aren’t nothin but a bunch of ignorant, egotistical, blowhards trying to spread disinformation. This new partnership led to an even closer association with China’s propaganda machine. Murdoch was now hanging out with Propaganda Department chief, Ding Guangen, and then Prime Minister, Zhu Rongji. Another partner was the Central Committee of the Communist Youth League, considered the political power base of China’s new top leader, Hu Jintao. He parlayed these relationships into a new business, building the Internet sites for China Central Television (CCTV) and the People’s Daily, the mouthpiece of the Communist Party.

Murdoch later was permitted to launch MySpace China. He agreed to all of China’s regulations on Internet censorship and placed a convenient link on every page for users to report inappropriate information to the authorities. How thoughtful of him. I wonder how many Chinese dissidents disappeared due that little feature?

If you are not already rolled up in the fetal position under a table, I don’t know what to tell you. This is serious stuff, and it is one of the reasons I have never feared more for the future of my country. When the biggest media conglomerate in the world is in bed with the world’s biggest communist nation, how much longer can we expect to remain free? And remember, China has us by the short hairs due to all of the U.S. debt they hold.

America…It is more important now than ever to be vigilant and strong. I don’t know how much longer I will be allowed to say these things in public. I told you before that certain entities were threatening to silence anyone who speaks truthfully. I told you to listen between the sentences where I will be screaming at you. I told you to be suspicious of any reports of my demise. Do you think I want to get on the air every night and tell you this stuff? I don’t want to believe these things, but unfortunately I find them true. It’s not my damn fault. Get off my fucking back. And stop following me around. I mean, come on, follow me. Believe me. Love me. Worship me. I’m doing all of this for you. Can’t you see that?

America is at a crossroads. Which way will we go? Further to the left, where communism, tyranny, aliens, and universal health care torment every citizen? Or back to the right, where unregulated free enterprise allows clowns like me to make millions by peddling fear and phony conspiracies? Do you want to repeat the Age of Enlightenment, when society was burdened with reason and the harshness of reality. Or would you prefer the glorious Dark Ages when people relied on faith and the comforting fear of a just and vengeful God?

I know which road I’m taking. I hope to see you on it. Good night, America.

That’s the end of the transcript. The Murdoch/China connection is pretty well blown wide open now, thanks to Glenn Beck. The question is, will this episode ever see the light of day? And now that the transcript is out, will Beck be punished for his insolence? Is Murdoch already laying the groundwork for Beck’s downfall? What exactly is the connection between Murdoch and Color of Change, who have been orchestrating a surprisingly successful campaign aimed at Beck’s advertisers? About 80 advertisers have already declared that they will not purchase time on Beck’s program Could that have been accomplished without Murdoch’s knowledge and assistance?

I don’t know. I’m just asking?

The Fox Nation Of Fanatics Fails Again: Health Care Edition

As if it weren’t bad enough that Fox Nation populates its web site with right-wing hysteria and links to uber-conservative purveyors of propaganda, they have now demonstrated that their editors are (at least) as stupid as their readers are gullible.

Today I observed a graphic at Fox Nation linking to a column in the Washington “Moonie” Times written by Amanda Carpenter, an O’Reilly Factor frequent fluffer. The article itself was chock full of nuttiness that I’ll get to momentarily. First I need to point out that Fox Nation is so desperate to disparage its enemies that they will project whatever demon suits them into their coverage whether it’s there or not. Here is the graphic showing the groups they say are allegedly mobilizing against town hall protesters:

The National Endowment for the Arts??? Are they really mobilizing against town hall protesters? Were those artists who were crashing community centers and public halls where Tea Baggers were fighting to keep the insurance companies between you and your doctor?

The problem with this picture is that Carpenter’s article says nothing about the National Endowment for the Arts whose logo is prominently displayed in the upper-right corner. There is a passage that mentions the NEA, but she is referring to the National Education Association. Rather than ascertain the facts, Fox Nation saw an acronym that could just as well have belonged to a favorite foe of theirs, so they giddily inserted the wrong logo into their graphic. And they consider themselves to be a “news” organization. I suppose it’s easier to demonize artists than teachers. The only thing Fox Nation cares about is assembling the usual targets of their wrath – community organizers (ACORN), unions (SEIU), minorities (NCLR), and, of course, those subversive artists – for a public whipping.

As an artist myself, I wouldn’t mind seeing the Endowment get more actively involved in countering the thugs who are brazenly trying to shut down democratic discourse. I have long believed that the role artists have traditionally played in social movements has been diminished in this age of corporate controlled marketing and the cultural aversion to artists who speak their minds (i.e. shut up and sing). But for Fox Nation to falsely charge that the NEA is mobilizing against protesters (an absurd charge in any context) is slanderous. And it is especially egregious when the slander is the result of an idiotic editor who can’t figure out which organiztion he’s supposed to be hating.

The article itself is rich with ridiculous reportage. It’s premise is that there is something terribly wrong with the way that Democrats plan to respond to the right-wing mobs that are disrupting town hall meetings between congressional representatives and their constituents.

It has been well documented that the right is coordinating their protests through political and industry front groups like Conservatives for Patients Rights, Americans for Prosperity, and FreedomWorks. These organized creators of chaos have distributed instructions on how to cause a commotion. Participating in a productive and civil discussion is the farthest thing from their minds.

What makes this article exceptionally ludicrous is that Carpenter’s examples of what she characterizes as untoward behavior from leftie activists pales in comparison to what the Tea Bagging bullies have put forth. Let’s take a look:

Left-Wing Mob Right-Wing Mob
Ask the Member’s staff what would be most helpful and talk through a strategy for making sure the right messages don’t get drowned out by chaotic protesters. Artificially Inflate Your Numbers: Spread out in the hall and try to be in the front half. The objective is to put the Rep on the defensive with your questions and follow-up.
Address the [Member of Congress] directly with a positive message: Remember, these Members need cover and they are getting beaten up by right wing zealots in these meetings. Be Disruptive Early And Often: You need to rock-the-boat early in the Rep’s presentation, Watch for an opportunity to yell out and challenge the Rep’s statements early.
Don’t get into a shouting match with them. Instead, prep people on our side to keep raising the questions that we want answered. Try To “Rattle Him,” Not Have An Intelligent Debate: The goal is to rattle him, get him off his prepared script and agenda.

So while the left wants to be helpful, positive, and avoid shouting matches, the right wants to lie, disrupt and rattle the targets of their tantrums. Which side really sounds like a mob to you?

The fact that Carpenter and the Washington Times thought that it served their purpose to illustrate these differences just defies comprehension. And to complete the circle of the Murdoch-driven disinformation campaign, Carpenter appeared on Fox News this morning to make the same scandalous assertion that health care advocates are conspiring to be “helpful.” OMG!

Are Artists Real People?

Believe it or not, there are actually living relics of the Dark Ages who have the audacity to publicly wonder as to whether artists are real people. One of them is Georgia’s Republican Congressman Jack Kingston who, addressing what he felt were wasteful provisions of the stimulus bill, said the following:

“We have real people out of work right now and putting $50 million in the NEA and pretending that’s going to save jobs as opposed to putting $50 million in a road project is disingenuous.”

Someone needs to tell Rep. Kingston that some of the real people who are out of work are artists, and that artists are more than the celebrities whose fame creates thousands of jobs. They are people who write textbooks as well as novels. They design ads for local businesses to help them to prosper. They create products in every industrial field, which puts other people to work manufacturing them. What’s more, some of those who are out of work are real people who have labored in jobs that support the arts like electricians, caterers, carpenters, truck drivers, seamstresses, ushers, janitors, printers, and accountants.

Arts = JobsKingston should surf over to the web site of, where he would learn that 5.7 million people are employed in the arts; that the arts occupy a $166 billion chunk of our economy; that the arts generate almost $30 billion in taxes.

Kingston might then be able to figure out that $50 million is a pretty cheap way of putting millions of real people to work and boosting local economies across the country. Then he could tell his pal Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) to stop asking stupid questions like this one:

“…what does $50 million to the National Endowment for the Arts have to do with creating jobs in Indiana?”

The stimulus bill, as passed by the House, contained the NEA grant. In the Senate, however, it was removed by an amendment by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) that lumped arts funding in with a bunch of other projects. The amendment passed 73-24 with the votes of some supposedly art-friendly members such as Dianne Feinstein, Chuck Schumer, Bob Casey, and Russ Feingold. It stipulated that…

None of the amounts appropriated or otherwise made available by this Act may be used for any casino or other gambling establishment, aquarium, zoo, golf course, swimming pool, stadium, community park, museum, theater, art center, and highway beautification project.

At this point I think it would be appropriate to note that Coburn’s daughter, Sarah, is a budding opera singer. She will be opening in November at the Los Angeles Opera playing in Handel’s “Tamerlano” opposite Placido Domingo. The LA Opera has received hundreds of thousands of dollars from the NEA over the years, but today, like so many arts enterprises, they are in dire straits. Domingo, the Opera’s general director, deferred his salary to reduce costs. Last month they announced that they would have to…

“…lay off 17 employees, stage fewer performances and reduce its operating budget by a quarter to cope with falling donations and reduced endowment income.”

For now, Tamerlano is still on the Opera’s calendar. But by November it may be a different story. I’m sure the Senator’s daughter/diva will be fine. I’m not so sure that the same can be said of the workers laid off by this facility, or hundreds of others – to say nothing of the related workers and small businesses that depend on these venues and other artistic enterprises. They number in the millions and, contrary to the insensitive blathering of Pence, Coburn, and Kingston, they are real people.

Update: Arts Recovery Funds Restored in Economic Stimulus Bill [Woo hoo]

A Stimulus Bill For The Arts

As the economy continues to wobble, and Americans face the bleakness of a looming depression, Washington is cobbling together a stimulus package designed to restore the economy and create jobs. The overwhelming majority of the $850 billion proposal is allocated to infrastructure spending and the rescue and reform of financial institutions and the manufacturing base.

Setting aside the merits of the bill as a whole, which reasonable people can debate, the political response to it is shaping up as just another partisan dogfight. Republicans are flailing away at anything they think they can disparage as wasteful, whether or not it actually is.

One example of this, that is close to my heart, is a $50 million grant to the National Endowment for the Arts. That amounts to about 0.006 of one percent of the total bill. That hasn’t stopped Republicans like Mike Pence from trying to use it to torpedo the whole package. But this minuscule appropriation actually has a valid purpose and can produce value that far exceeds its cost. While it’s easy for Dark Agists in Washington to target the arts for political gain, the truth is that art in our communities and schools is essential to both our economic and mental health.

In our efforts to get America working again, it should be remembered that artists are being hurt by the present economic slump along with everyone else. Perhaps more so, in that they are often the first to be cast off by belt-tightening employers and consumers. As such, they are no less deserving of a place in the recovery.

In the last depression, Franklin Delano Roosevelt created the Works Progress Administration which, amongst other things, created work for 40,000 American artists. Those jobs resulted in projects that lifted the economic prospects of their communities by making them more livable and promoting trade and tourism. And they also contributed to a cultural Renaissance by documenting society’s pain, struggles, and victories. In addition there was an emphasis on arts education, which produced a generation of more well-rounded and literate citizens with an appreciation for the arts and the solace and inspiration they invoke.

Support for the arts is a critical part of our nation’s recovery and its character. It is what defines and preserves our history and our spirit. It propels us forward in good times and consoles us when hardships weigh us down. It is our essence, our connection to one another, to our ancestors, and to our heirs.

John Cavanagh of the Institute for Policy Studies is spearheading a campaign to advance government support for the arts. He is calling for more funding as well as a cabinet-level Secretary of Arts and Culture. The online petition for this movement already has over 4,600 signatures. You can add yours here: One Percent for the Arts