Fox Flunky Frank Luntz Says “Fox News Viewers Ought To Be Outraged”

If you were to look for a political pollster or analyst who spent more time manufacturing a false narrative about the presidential election than Frank Luntz, you would probably give up in despair.

Luntz is a Fox News fixture who appears on numerous programs flaunting his phony focus groups that invariably swayed to favor Mitt Romney. He was also called upon to review campaign ads, some of which were produced by his Fox colleague, Karl Rove. Those reviews always seemed to rate the GOP ads better, which further affirmed his assessment that Romney was the favorite to win. And to top it off, Luntz is a consultant for hire to the Republican Party, so anyone expecting anything like objectivity from him is terminally naive.

Now that President Obama has decisively won reelection with an electoral landslide, Luntz has crawled out from beneath his wretched rightist rock to make what may be the most hilarious, deceitful, and self-serving statement of the whole campaign season:

“The published polls that the Romney campaign and the Republican establishment were trashing day after day turned out to be accurate. [...] This is a bad day for establishment pollsters and it’s something they should be held accountable for. You have to tell your clients the truth. And you have to be accurate. And to miss so many states and to be this far off – Your Fox News viewers ought to be outraged, because day in and day out they were told that Mitt Romney was going to win.”

Indeed, Fox News viewers should be outraged – At Luntz and Fox News! After all, that is where conservative voters were fed the most conspicuously dishonest misinformation about the election and the projected outcome. They are the reason that Romney and his supporters were described as “shell-shocked” when they realized that he had lost. They are the ones who promoted nonsense like “Unskewed Polls” that ironically sought to skew published polling so that Romney came out ahead.

Fox News was so brazenly hypocritical in their reporting of election surveys that they chose to only publish polls that had Romney in the lead. They ignored or disparaged any poll that put Obama on top – even their own Fox News commissioned polls.

Fox News Polls

If election day was “a bad day for establishment pollsters,” it was a bad day for Luntz, because you don’t get more establishment than him. He was as much a part of the problem as anyone. Just a couple of weeks before the election he appeared on Fox to say that it was time to “take Florida off the swing state list,” because it had swung clearly and irreversibly to Romney. Of course, Florida went for Obama, as did all but one of the so-called “swing states.”

The disingenuous babble on Fox News has only one purpose: advance the political interests of conservatives and Republicans. That fact was illuminated by none other than Luntz himself when he told the Los Angeles Times that his airtime has previously been cut on Fox because “his findings didn’t comport with the outlet’s orthodoxy.” That’s an admission that Fox requires their contributors to toe a partisan line, and Luntz has obviously complied.

For Luntz to come out now and tell Fox viewers that they should be outraged is typical behavior for a propagandist who calls himself the “Word Doctor.” He is a professional flack who counsels his clients to lie by distorting language. It was Luntz who coined the term “government-run health care” as an alternative to the Affordable Care Act (or ObamaCare). It didn’t matter that the legislation was only aimed at health insurance and was not in any way a government takeover of medical services. The phrase itself was awarded the “Lie of the Year” from PolitiFact.

Frank LuntzIt’s what Luntz does. In one of his more infamous efforts to distort public discourse, he delivered a speech before a group of Republicans wherein he offered a series of rhetorical replacements for words he thought were damaging to the GOP cause. Words like “capitalism, compromise,” and “middle-class.” This screed was served up after first declaring his abject fear of the Occupy Wall Street movement, saying that he was “so scared of this anti-Wall Street effort. I’m frightened to death. They’re having an impact on what the American people think of capitalism.” And his approach to countering it was not to formulate a policy response, but to change the wording of the GOP rebuttal in the hopes of confusing the public.

So, should Fox News viewers be outraged? I’ll say. But, sadly, they will probably just sink back into their stupor and continue to believe whatever falsehoods Fox throws at them going forward. Fox is already trying to sell the myth that Obama’s victory was insignificant and comes without a mandate. They are soft-peddling an electoral blowout and the fact that Democrats won even more seats in both the House and the Senate in a year where they were expected to lose seats. They are fostering the notion that the GOP should resist tax increases on the wealthy, despite the fact that Obama ran (and won) on that platform and exit polls show that 60% of voters favor it.

This further demonstrates that Fox is doing precisely the same things that ought to have enraged their viewers, and when they lose these arguments as well, their audience will be similarly shell-shocked. But they are getting exactly what they deserve by being foolish enough to keep watching a network that deliberately lies to them.

Andrew Breitbart vs. Occupy: Behave Yourselves You Filthy Freaks

Every year at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) there are demonstrations of ludicrous and hateful behavior by the nation’s rightist luminaries. Already this year we have seen three of the candidates for the Republican nomination for president take the stage to throw red meat invectives at President Obama and other Democrats, to the delight of the ravenous crowd.

But nothing has yet come close to the maniacal tantrum thrown by Internet mogul wannabe, Andrew Breitbart. And it was all caught on tape:

Breitbart often tries to present himself as someone who wants to be taken seriously by the media. He thinks he is a credible journalist and media critic. But his behavior belies even the notion that he is mentally stable. By repeating incessantly, at high decibels, his demand that Occupy protesters behave themselves, he is not exactly a model of civil behavior. But then he escalates his tirade to inexplicably accuse the protesters of rape and murder. He becomes so completely unhinged that security guards intervene to remove him from the scene.

It boggles the mind that so-called respectable news networks provide Breitbart with a platform to spew his bile. When CNN, for instance, puts him on the air they are validating him as a credible commentator, despite his resume that is replete with hostility and brazen dishonesty. This latest episode of frenzied derangement ought to put an end to his media exploitation but, unfortunately, that will probably not be the case. Too many media executives (like CNN’s Ken Jautz) are more concerned with ratings generating controversy than they are with professionalism or journalistic ethics.

U.S. Falls to 47th Place On Press Freedom Index

Reporters Without Borders released their annual Press Freedom Index today that ranks 179 countries for their treatment of journalists and respect for a free and independent press. There were some points of light internationally, but as their report notes:

“Crackdown was the word of the year in 2011. Never has freedom of information been so closely associated with democracy. Never have journalists, through their reporting, vexed the enemies of freedom so much. Never have acts of censorship and physical attacks on journalists seemed so numerous.”

The United States performed particularly poorly, dropping 27 places this year to 47th worldwide. When compared only to the 20 largest nations (by GDP), the U.S. came in at #11, behind countries like Taiwan and South Korea.

The precipitous decline was attributed to the surge in arrests of reporters at Occupy Wall Street demonstrations. There was a notable pattern of both arrests and assaults by law enforcement of journalists covering the events. Last November the Society of Professional Journalists issued a condemnation of such practices and called on…

“…city administrators across the country to drop charges against journalists arrested while covering the Occupy Wall Street and related protests.”

Josh Stearns of FreePress.net has been tracking the arrests and harassment of journalists across the country. To date he has identified 36 victims. But this list is not comprehensive. One incident that was left out involved reporters from a Fox News affiliate (of all places) in New York who were covering the protests when they were embroiled in a chaotic scuffle that resulted in the photographer getting maced and the reporter getting struck by a police baton.

This is an embarrassing development for a country whose Constitution explicitly protects freedom of the press. It indicates that we still have some work to do and that eternal vigilance is not just a figure of speech..

Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Case Of The Tea Party Smoke Bomber

If there is still anyone who wonders where Fox News gets the information it publishes, let there be no mistake – They make it up. Take, for instance, this article featured on Fox Nation with the headline, “Occupier (Not a Tea Partier) Throws Smoke Bomb Over White House Fence.”

Fox Nation vs. Reality

The Fox Nationalists linked to an article on their own FoxNews.com about the protest in Washington by Occupy Congress. Nowhere in the article was there any evidence that the smoke bomb was thrown by an Occupy protester. There are no witnesses, no suspects, no statements from the authorities – nothing that implicates a protester.

Nevertheless, Fox makes a declarative statement of fact that the smoke bomb was thrown by an “Occupier.” They also make a similar statement that the smoke bomb was not thrown by a Tea Partier, an assertion for which they also have zero evidence. And we already know that Tea Partiers have conspired to create disruptions at progressive events and blame the progressives. Here are just two verified examples:

Patrick Howley, an assistant editor for the uber-conservative American Spectator magazine, admitted to infiltrating OccupyDC for the purpose of undermining it. He then attempted to lead a group of protesters into storming the National Air and Space Museum in Washington. The protesters, being much smarter than Howley, did not play along. Howley stormed the museum alone and was pepper-sprayed by security.

Mark Williams, former spokesman for Tea Party Express, told his radio listeners that he was planning to sabotage union rallies with the intention of making them look “greedy and goonish.” And he beseeched his listeners to do the same. Williams was the one-time spokesperson for the Tea Party Express, but was dismissed for publishing a virulently racist article on his blog.

Given their history of attempts to implicate Occupiers for crimes they did not commit, it is entirely possible that a Tea Party, or other right-wing activist, was responsible for the smoke bomb. But I’m not leveling any charges because there is no evidence one way or the other. That, however, doesn’t stop Fox from inventing news stories that advance their agenda. Fox News has always been more interested in disseminating propaganda than in upholding ethical standards of journalism.

Occupy Reality: Americans Concern About Income Inequality Surges

The Pew Research Center has conducted an inquiry into the degree of divisions within American society and found that conflicts between rich and poor now outpace other sources of group tension.

That result can only be interpreted as a success for the 99% and those who participated in the nationwide Occupy movement. They decisively altered the national dialogue from one that was obsessed with government spending and debt, to one that focused on economic justice and corporate abuse of power.

This is a terrible time for the GOP (Greedy One Percent) to be coalescing around Mitt Romney as their nominee for president. A multimillionaire, corporate raider who specializes in bankrupting companies and outsourcing jobs may not be the ideal candidate in this political environment. But, fortunately for Democrats, they are stuck with him.

The Wealth Gap in American is currently larger than it has ever been. It is larger than it was in the Great Depression. It is even larger than it was during the ancient Roman Empire that collapsed from the weight of its own injustice and oppression.

Click to enlarge
Decadence Index

The Republicans know all too well that their class war on behalf of the rich is toxic to their electoral aspirations. Their top strategist and pollster, Frank Luntz, has been counseling them to steer clear of debates on economic justice and free market capitalism. In a seminar for the Republican Governor’s Association he told them that he is “so scared of this anti-Wall Street effort. I’m frightened to death.” Even fellow Republicans are bashing the corporatist tendencies of Romney and his Bain Capital pedigree.

Not to be left out, Fox News joined the club by posting an article about the Pew survey on their Fox Nation web site. Consistent with their inbred bias, they mocked up a graphic that pastes Obama in front of the “Mission Accomplished” banner that George Bush made to pretend that the Iraq war was over, implying that Obama is responsible for the class tensions.

Fox Nation Rich/Poor Conflict

The problem with Fox’s characterization is that Obama was a late-comer to the issue. The people were way out in front of this and they overwhelming support the goals associated with the Occupy movement. And that includes many of the rich people we are supposed to be in conflict with. Notice how they never called it a class war until we fought back.

But more importantly, in their rush to smear the President, they are implicitly conceding that income inequality is a significant problem in America and that it is reaching an historic level of risk. Thanks Fox.

Carnage Capitalism: When Mitt Romney Came To Town

“You have to ask the question, is capitalism really about the ability of a handful of rich people to manipulate the lives of thousands of people and then walk off with the money?” (h/t TPM)

You might be wondering which ultra-progressive enemy of conservative, free market, American principles uttered that indictment of capitalism and the GOP (Greedy One Percent) model of the economy. It wasn’t Michael Moore or Nancy Pelosi or George Soros. It was former Speaker of the House of Representatives, and current floundering Republican presidential hopeful, Newt Gingrich.

Seriously. Gingrich is so obsessed with cutting off his nemesis, Mitt Romney (or R*Money as his Highlife Homies call him) at the knees that he has adopted the platform of Occupy Wall Street to expose Romney’s Carnage Capitalism that permits him to profit extravagantly from the suffering of others and the destruction of businesses and jobs. There is even a devastating new video produced by a pro-Gingrich Super-Pac, Winning Our Future, that could easily be used by the Obama campaign against Romney this fall:

This is precisely the strategy that should be implemented against Romney and the rest of the congressional GOP establishment in the upcoming elections. Gingrich knows that this line of attack will be effective or he wouldn’t be using it himself. He has surely done focus groups and other polling to affirm that. Even the GOP’s top pollster/strategist, Frank Luntz warned a meeting of the Republican Governor’s Association that…

“I’m so scared of this anti-Wall Street effort. I’m frightened to death. They’re having an impact on what the American people think of capitalism.”

It isn’t really the word capitalism that is the problem, but the corruption of it by people like Romney (and Gingrich, for that matter). But when the far right is embracing our arguments, you know that the tide has turned. And that is not a sign to relax or declare victory. It is a call to redouble our efforts and march on until our goals are achieved. This concession by Gingrich, and the video by his pals, are just the most recent indications that progressive values are on the ascendancy.

The Decadence Index: How The Wealth Gap Is Hastening The Fall Of The American Empire

If there is anything that history teaches us about empires, it is that they are temporary and often fall of their own decaying weight. Ancient Rome is notorious for a descent that was widely speculated to have been driven by a massive class disparity. The aristocratic patricians devolved into a morass of immorality and obscene opulence. Meanwhile, the other 99% of the empire’s subjects were burdened by lives of oppressive labor or slavery.

The parallels to contemporary American class division are striking. We have our own aristocracy that arisen to a place of privilege and power, while working families are working harder for less, if they’re fortunate enough to be working at all. The 400 richest Americans control more wealth than the bottom 150 million of their fellow citizens – combined. And they exploit the power that comes with that wealth to further enrich themselves. Between 1979 and 2007, average after-tax incomes for the top 1% rose by 281%, compared to a 16% rise for the bottom 20%. The Roman elites would have felt right at home.

There is one difference, however. An historical study published by the Cambridge University Press looked at the Roman economy and calculated the measurement used by the CIA to rank the wealth gap of the nations of the world. What it found was that the United States actually ranks lower on income inequality than Ancient Rome.

Let that sink in for a moment. History’s most conspicuously ostentatious society of Bacchanalian excess had a less severe chasm between its rich and poor subjects than contemporary America. That astonishing fact led me to wonder where the U.S. stands when compared to its modern counterparts. So I consulted the CIA World Factbook and ranked the twenty richest nations by the index that represents income inequality. What I found was that the U.S. ranks 18th out of twenty. I call it The Decadence Index, and countries like Iran, Russia, and India are all less decadent than the United States in terms of economic disparity.

Click to enlarge
Decadence Index

The CIA collects this sort of data because it can be useful in predicting where civil unrest might flare up in the world. So what does that say about the stability of our social structure going forward? It certainly explains the Occupy movement. The question now is what are we going to do about it?

The solutions are not all that difficult to comprehend. Those who have benefited so lavishly by exploiting the system for their own enrichment should now be required to share a fair portion of the sacrifice necessary to restore economic health and balance. It’s not rocket science. Malcolm Gladwell offers a compelling explanation as he demolishes the rightist fable that taxes on the wealthy impede economic growth:

If we want to raise our position on the Decadence Index above that of the Ancient Romans (or the Russians or the French, for that matter), we need to reject the reckless and insensitive agenda of the right-wing patricians whose sole purpose is the accumulation of wealth and power. These patrons of plutocracy unabashedly advocate cutting, even eliminating, taxes on themselves, the rich, and intensifying the tax burden on everyone else. They falsely portray themselves as “job creators,” but this InfoGraphic shows who The Real Job Creators are. They pretend to fret over a class war that they themselves are waging. And because they know that the people overwhelmingly support the principles of economic fairness and justice, these conservative elites are conspiring to suppress the votes of average Americans, particularly seniors, minorities, students, and low-income voters.

Make no mistake, this is a coordinated campaign financed and managed by shadowy, but powerful, business and political entities like the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Their mission was aided by the Supreme Court’s odious decision in the Citizens United case that opened the floodgates of corporate money into the electoral process. And, of course, they have the propaganda power of Fox News to advance their greedy, magisterial interests. But the people are fighting back against ludicrous notions like “Corporate Personhood,” and the Upper Crusters are afraid. Even Republican strategist Frank Luntz is admitting as much:

“I’m so scared of this anti-Wall Street effort. I’m frightened to death. They’re having an impact on what the American people think of capitalism.”

So keep up the fight because Corporations Are Not People. Here are some ways to contribute and participate:

Move To Amend is organizing a national action on January 20, 2012, to oppose and reverse Citizens United: Occupy the Courts!
Public Citizen is organizing a national action on January 21, 2012 to oppose and reverse Corporate Personhood: Occupy the Corporations!

Get up. Get involved. Get mad. And get to work.

Occupy The Media: Progressives Rule – Republicans Drool

A new study by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press explores the public’s attitude toward their elected representatives and the ideological viewpoints that divide our culture. The results reveal a surprising discordance between what the people want and what our representatives think we want.

If a neutral foreigner were to be deposited in America and asked to describe the aspirations of the American people based on his observations of politicians and the press, he might describe a populace consumed with conservative values, evangelical fervor, and personal greed. It’s an appraisal colored by the inordinately excessive volume of congressional Tea Partiers, moralistic spokespeople, and Republican anti-tax crusaders.

However, the true character of the American people has only recently been demonstrated via the actions of Wall Street Occupiers and their protests against the undemocratic usurpation of power by wealthy corporations and individuals, and their benefactors in government. We are a far more tolerant, charitable, and forward thinking people than we are portrayed to be.

Pew Survey - Political TermsThe first, and perhaps most notable, revelation in the Pew survey is that, contrary to the conventional so-called wisdom, when Americans are asked for which term they have a more positive impression, “progressive” ranks highest (at 67%) and significantly higher than “conservative” (62%).

This reverence for progressivism will come as a surprise to many in the media who seem to have bought the persistent complaints of conservatives that Americans lean to the right. That has never been true. There has just been a concerted effort to demonize the liberal label, which has been successful to some degree. Glenn Beck tried to do the same thing to “progressive,” but obviously that didn’t work at all. He must be scarfing down Prozac by the handful right about now. And even with the decades-long bashing of liberals, the term still ties with “capitalism” at 50%. Meanwhile, socialism fares pretty well at 31% for a nation that once blacklisted anyone who expressed sympathy for workers or the poor – a nation to which today’s GOP would like to return.

In addition to the disconnect on ideology, the media has presented a pitifully shallow analysis of the public’s affinity (or lack thereof) for Congress. It has been widely reported that the approval rating for Congress is at historic lows (11%). However, that number has not been broken down to reflect the specific object of the public’s disaffection – until now.

The Pew survey reveals that the nation’s mind is firmly made up as to who is responsible for our national woes. When asked who is to blame for the “do-nothing” congress, respondents chose Republicans over Democrats by almost 2-to-1 (40% to 23%). Republicans were also seen as more extreme in their positions (55% to 33%), and less willing to work with the other side (25% to 51%). Meanwhile, Democrats were viewed as better able to manage government (41% to 35%) and more honest and ethical (45% to 28%).

Fox Nation - CongressThis places media reports of low congressional approval ratings in context. What people hate about Washington are its GOP inhabitants. November 2012 can’t come soon enough for Democrats. And, as can be expected, Fox News leads the pack of truth-distorters by publishing an article on low congressional approval with an accompanying graphic that features Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, but no sign of the Republican Speaker of the House, John Boehner, or his cadre of lieutenants and committee chairmen who presided over the least productive congress in 60 years.

A similar contextual perspective can be applied to reporting on the Occupy Wall Street movement. While right-wing propagandists have gone to great lengths to insult the protesters as unfocused, unclean, and un-American, the Pew poll paints a very different picture. A plurality of 44% support the movement. Even more (48%) agree with its goals. An overwhelming majority (77%) believe that there is too much power in the hands of a few rich people and large corporations. That includes majorities of Democrats (91%), Independents (80%), and even Republicans (53%).

This information ought to be a part of every story broadcast or published about the nation’s moods and preferences. The low opinions expressed in media polls do not exist in a vacuum. Those numbers have no meaning without digging further to understand why they are what they are. If you were to put Gandhi in a room with a coven of neo-Nazis and poll the public as to their opinion of the people in that room, it would certainly yield a poor result. The inscrutable press would then report that America hates Gandhi. Of course, a more detailed survey would show that it was only the Nazis that brought the polling down.

That’s precisely the sort of deception that the media is engaging in with regard to Occupy Wall Street and Congress. And it’s why we have to be continually vigilant in monitoring the media and correcting it when necessary. In the meantime, we, as progressives, can be proud that the people are on our side, and we can keep reminding the world that it’s the other guys in the room who are stinking it up.

Time Magazine: #Occupy Wall Street #1 Story Of 2011

The editors of Time Magazine have selected the Occupy Wall Street movement as the top news story of 2011. This was a year that featured a contentious primary race for the Republican nomination for president, a bitter congressional battle over the debt ceiling, and a trial of staggering importance to the nation that found Michael Jackson’s doctor guilty of manslaughter.

Nevertheless, Time managed to make the right choice. The Occupy movement is an unprecedented expression of the First Amendment rights of free speech and the redressing of grievances. This country has never before seen a protest that planted itself in a public square and remained there long after most other rallies would have dissipated and gone home. And this phenomenon replicated itself in hundreds of cities across the nation.

As a result, the public debate over policy and governance flipped 180 degrees from the phony discourse over debt and the size of government, to the far more relevant subject of economic fairness and the abuse of power by the wealthy, the well-connected, and the giant multinational corporations who have no allegiance to America or its citizenry. It shoved the AstroTurf Tea Party out of the headlines and caused the Republican establishment to admit that they are “frightened to death” of Occupy and the 99%.

While Time got the top spot right, there were a couple of glaring omissions in the remainder of their top 10. Somehow they left out the killing of Osama Bin Laden which, after a decade of consuming a major portion of the national consciousness, ought to have earned a spot on this list. It is likewise curious that the News Corp phone hacking scandal was overlooked. That affair resulted in the closure of Britain’s largest circulation newsweekly, 17 arrests (and counting), numerous resignations of top management, Parliamentary hearings that compelled the appearance of Rupert Murdoch and his son James. This was not only a huge news story, it was the biggest news story about the news in decades.

These omissions might have been excusable if the crush of major events simply pushed the stories further down the list. But Time saw fit to include the “Penn State Sex Abuse Scandal,” and “Freak Weather” in the list. Do they really believe that those stories rank higher than the downfalls of the world’s top terrorist and top media propagandist?

[I'll leave it you to decide which is which]
Rupert MurdochOsama Bin Laden

Obama’s Kansas Speech Owes A Debt To #Occupy Wall Street

President Obama traveled to the site of Teddy Roosevelt’s “New Nationalism” speech in order to deliver an address on the economy. The most striking thing about the President’s remarks was the extent to which they appear to have been influenced by the Occupy movement. Obama segued from one assertion of economic inequality to another as he insisted that “in America, we are greater together – when everyone engages in fair play, everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share.”

That is the call of the Occupiers in a nutshell. It is a campaign to restore fairness and justice and to take back control of the government from the wealthy special interests it has come to serve. If you missed the speech, I’ll save you twenty minutes by posting the one paragraph that summarizes the core of the message:

“Now, in the midst of this debate, there are some who seem to be suffering from a kind of collective amnesia. After all that’s happened, after the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, they want to return to the same practices that got us into this mess. In fact, they want to go back to the same policies that have stacked the deck against middle-class Americans for too many years. Their philosophy is simple: we are better off when everyone is left to fend for themselves and play by their own rules.”

Indeed, the Collective Amnesia Ward is overflowing with patients who not only are suffering from the malady, they want to infect every American with the disease. In fact, the only way that they can prevail next November is to spread the amnesiac virus beyond the community of conservative Republicans who are most susceptible to it. And if that one message is effectively communicated by the Obama reelection committee, the President will serve a second term.

On the other hand, the paragraph following the one above reiterated one of Obama’s most severe flaws. He still believes that there is a commonality of interest between his principles of inclusion and the Republican obsession with power. He believes that that by embracing a universal American togetherness the GOP will cease to demonize him and join the effort to rebuild the nation. It starts off well enough, but crashes and burns at the end.

“I’m here to reaffirm my deep conviction that we are greater together than we are on our own. I believe that this country succeeds when everyone gets a fair shot, when everyone does their fair share, and when everyone plays by the same rules. Those aren’t Democratic or Republican values; 1% values or 99% values. They’re American values, and we have to reclaim them.”

To argue that the 1% and the 99% share common American values is evidence of a dangerous blind spot. What Obama is missing here, and what he has missed for the past three years, is that there is a massive chasm between Democratic and Republican values. Whereas Democrats aspire (at least rhetorically) to empower the middle-class, the Republicans freely admit that their top objective is destroy Obama. That simple truth ought to be enough to convince the President that he is not going to recruit any allies in the fight for fairness and economic renewal from the ranks of the establishment GOP.

To illustrate the determination of the right-wing to throw every available obstacle into Obama’s path, Fox News cut away from the speech about half way through. Apparently they wanted to protect their fragile viewers from this subversive philosophy. By tonight Fox will be castigating the speech as a paean to socialism owing to its praise for working together. And the pressing news that demanded the interruption of the President was that Megyn Kelly had an interview with Michele Bachmann, who has about as much chance of becoming the Republican nominee as Miss Piggy.

On the whole the speech was another validation of the Occupy movement. This speech would not have been written a year ago. The public debate has been utterly transformed in the two and a half months since an unruly rabble encamped in a park in Lower Manhattan. Today the Republicans are “frightened to death” of the prospect of average Americans ascending to the top of the political food chain. And the President of the United States of America gave a speech honoring the notion that “We still have a stake in each other’s success.”

Frank Luntz, The Fox News Word Doctor, Is Scared To Death Of #Occupy Wall Street

Frank Luntz has been helping to distort the language of Republicans for decades. His specialty is developing dishonest phrases to replace accurate descriptions of social and political issues when the accurate descriptions produce negative impressions of conservatives and their unpopular agenda. And now…..

Frank Luntz Is Scared

Luntz created the term “death tax” as a substitute for “estate tax,” reasoning that it would be easier to steer low-information voters away from a tax on dying than a tax on people who own estates. He also supplied the term “government-run” to replace “public option” during the health care debate after determining that focus groups responded less favorably to the label that implied falsely that government would get between you and your doctor.

It is common to observe Luntz’s fabrications getting adopted by conservative politicians and media. He is a frequent presence on Fox News and has been cited as their main source for right-leaning rhetoric. He serves the same purpose for political clients, and in that role he just spoke at the Republican Governors Association to deliver an ominous warning:

“I’m so scared of this anti-Wall Street effort. I’m frightened to death. They’re having an impact on what the American people think of capitalism.”

Luntz is right to be afraid. The Occupy movement has taken hold of the American Dream and reminded citizens that they have a right to be heard on important issues that impact their lives. It has revealed that the American people are overwhelmingly supportive of the goals of the Occupiers. It has reasserted the Constitutional and patriotic practice of free speech and the redress of grievances. These are principles that Luntz and his rightist patrons simply cannot abide.

Consequently, Luntz went to work to shape a new batch of linguistic contortions with which to befuddle naive FoxPods. The fruit of his fear is striking evidence of the success of the Occupy movement. Below are the specific suggestions Luntz gave to the GOP governors for what to say, and not to say, when talking about the Occupy movement. Pay attention, because these words and arguments are what will soon be cascading from the mouths of pundits and politicians on Fox News and other ring-wing media:

Out: Capitalism / In: Economic Freedom or Free Market
Luntz has concluded that, while Americans still prefer capitalism to socialism, any mention of it will stir thoughts of the misdeeds of Wall Street and bankers. Indeed, capitalism has suffered a PR setback in recent years and even ranks below progressivism in national polls. In a nod to the effectiveness of the Occupiers, Luntz now believes that to be seen as defending Wall Street is “a problem.” So the GOP can’t even admit that it favors capitalism for fear of losing support.

Out: Tax the Rich / In: Take from the Rich
Every poll shows that the country is in favor of making the wealthy pay their fair share. Even polls of millionaires reveal that they think their own taxes should be higher. So Luntz proposes a tweak in the hopes of producing language that sounds more sympathetic. Remove the “sym” and you have something more like the truth.

Out: Middle-Class / In: Hardworking Taxpayers
The right has obviously lost any appeal to all but the most fortunate in society. Luntz recognizes that there is little to gain by courting the middle-class so he has invented a new term that he believes people can relate to without actually defining it. The problem is that taxpayers that actually do work hard won’t be fooled by this rouse into thinking they are members of the One-Percent whose lives of leisure are supported by GOP policies.

Out: Jobs / In: Careers
This may be the most brazen deceit on the list. Luntz asked his audience of Republican governors whether they wanted a job or a career. After few hands were raised for the former, and many for the latter, Luntz summed up asking, “So why are we talking about jobs?” He should try asking his questions in the parking lot of a Target Store rather than to sitting governors and their staff. He might get a different response and may even learn why so many Americans are talking about jobs.

Out: Government Spending / In: Waste
This is a transparent effort to associate anything having to do with government as wasteful and unnecessary. I assume he means to disparage government spending on things like Social Security, interstate highways, veteran’s benefits, law enforcement, public schools, child services, water, air, and food safety, and national security, which is, by far, the largest chunk of the federal budget. By all means, let’s stop wasting money.

Out: Compromise / In: Cooperate
In today’s Republican party compromise is seen as weakness. Luntz asserts that it amounts to “selling out [your] principles.” He also admits that cooperation means the same thing, but doesn’t have the sting of compromise. The GOP may not have been using Luntz’s phrasing, but they have definitely been acting on the concept. This session of Congress has had more filibusters than any in history as Republicans refuse to compromise. The fact that they are more committed to the failure of this administration than they are to the success of the nation has been apparent to the public, which is why Luntz and the GOP have to resort to this sort of word play.

Out: Umm… / In: I get It
Here Luntz is just offering his version of a patronizing statement to mollify an angry electorate. Luntz told his audience of governors, “Here are three words for you all: ‘I get it.’ I get that you’re angry. I get that you’ve seen inequality. I get that you want to fix the system.” Unfortunately for Luntz & Co. the electorate knows that’s a lie. They know that Republicans don’t really get it and neither do they have any solutions.

Out: Entrepreneur / In: Job Creator
I think this must have something to do with sounding too French. Republicans have a long record of pretending to support entrepreneurship, but Luntz must have detected a derogatory connotation that wasn’t there previously. He must also have detected a problem with the word “innovator” because he also advises against its use. However, the GOP has already been using “job creator” as a substitute for “rich,” so they will be forced to find a new label for the one-percent. How about “the One-Percent?”

Out: Sacrifice / In: In This Together
The logic behind this twist is that is that the word “sacrifice” allegedly evokes a negative feeling that is shared by all. The problem with that logic is that the rich have not yet been asked to sacrifice anything. So, in reality, Luntz just wants to excise the word because it only applies to the subset of Americans who are already suffering and to whom the GOP are least likely to appeal. Raising the specter of sacrifice only dredges up harsh feeling amongst the middle-class…I mean hard working Americans…when juxtaposed with the rich…I mean job creators.

Shared Sacrifice

Out: Wall Street / In: Washington
This capsulizes the whole problem for Luntz and the right. He knows that Wall Street is correctly seen as the perpetrator of much of the country’s current ills. He knows that associating with Big Finance will sink the prospects of any politician. And he knows that success for the Upper-Crusters he represents depends on fingering another villain. Ironically, the villains he suggests are the very people and institutions that he represents in DC. If he is going to mount a “blame Washington” campaign it has to include the Republican denizens of the capital who, more than anyone else, handed over control of the economy to the Wall Street hoodlums who promptly shattered it.

With the collapse of the Tea Party, the financial elite are girding for a fight. A recently disclosed memo revealed a scheme to launch a propaganda campaign against the Occupy movement to be funded by $850,000 from the American Bankers Association. The lobbyists behind this effort include former staff members of House Speaker John Boehner. The ties between the Banksters and political power brokers are as strong as ever.

The inescapable truth that emerges from Luntz’s presentation is that the Occupy movement has been a phenomenal success. In a little over two months it has captured the imagination of a weary populace who now see a path to redemption. It has flipped the national conversation from one of a phony debt crisis to one focused squarely on economic inequities and the abuse of corporate power in the political arena. And now it has resulted in one of the most satisfying accomplishments of all: It has Fox News’ Word Doctor, and likely all of his clients and colleagues, scared to death. Hopefully they will be just scared enough to start doing the right thing for the 99% of Americans who have had to wait too long for the restoration of fairness and justice.

[Here is an infographic version of the content of this article suitable for sharing on Facebook, Twitter, etc.]

New Yorkers Paying $500,000 A Year To Protect Fox News

In another example of the 1% bilking the general public out of money that ought to be used for the public’s benefit, the Daily Beast is reporting that Fox News gets special protection from the New York Police Department courtesy of New York taxpayers.

“[D]own at Rupert’s News Corp. headquarters on Sixth Ave.–which has never been a terrorist or protest target of any significance–the media empire is guarded by a 24-hour-a-day New York Police Department security detail seven days a week, a patrol that one security expert estimated costs the city at least half a million dollars a year. No other news network gets comparable NYPD protection.”

The article goes on to attribute the all-consuming paranoia of Fox CEO Roger Ailes as a possible explanation for the extraordinary security. But the optics of an enterprise owned by billionaire Rupert Murdoch billing a cash-strapped metropolis for security they ought to be paying for themselves is an embarrassment and an outrage. At a time when the NYPD is staffed at near record lows, somebody at the department, or in city government, has decided to redeploy officers from serving and protecting the people of New York to babysitting a wealthy corporation that can afford to take care of itself.

Is this really a wise use of scarce law enforcement resources? Does Fox News deserve protection that no other network receives? Is there an unhealthy relationship between Murdoch, the NYPD, and Michael Bloomberg? These are just a few of the questions that need to be asked at the next city council meeting. And while they are at it, somebody ought to ask why Fox News goes berserk over the cost of policing legal protests by Occupy Wall Street while they are draining public funds for no good reason.

Sarah Palin’s Top 10 Reasons To Support Occupy Wall Street

The Occupy Wall Street movement is a bona fide phenomenon that, in two short months, has grown to levels no one could have predicted. And despite the inability of the media to discern the goals of the OWS protesters, their agenda could not be more apparent. The movement’s core convictions revolve around the abuse and corruption of politics by the wealthy and corporations, and the economic inequities that have virtually vaporized America’s middle class.

These issues have unprecedented support from a broad swath of the American people. More than 70% support raising taxes on the rich. More than 70% oppose cutting Social Security and Medicare. And both of those include majorities of Republicans and Independents. Even a majority of our nation’s millionaires support these positions. Support for these principles is so universal that the only rebuttal opponents can muster are juvenile comments about socialism or hygiene.

For these reasons, perhaps it should not be surprising that Sarah Palin has jumped on the bandwagon. Her star has been fading rapidly since she stopped pretending to be a candidate for president. And while the press used to chase after her tour bus like whimpering puppies, the only attention she gets today is from her most devoted disciples and her boss, Rupert Murdoch, and the entities he controls such as Fox News and the Wall Street Journal.

It is in the pages of the latter that Palin has published a critique of the political-financial complex that is driving the nation to ruin. Her title for the op-ed is “How Congress Occupied Wall Street.” Many of her laments mirror the philosophy of the Occupy movement. While there is some obvious hypocrisy embedded in some of her remarks, it is still notable that these perspectives are being expressed by someone like Palin and published by an enterprise like the Wall Street Journal. Following are ten points that were extracted from Palin’s article that inadvertently endorse the principles of Occupy Wall Street.

1) How do politicians who arrive in Washington, D.C. as men and women of modest means leave as millionaires?
Good question. Do you suppose it has something to do with the unholy relationships between members of Congress and their wealthy benefactors? If anyone can answer this question it’s Palin, who has personal knowledge of how to earn millions by exploiting political opportunity.

2) The corruption [is] an entire system of public servants feathering their own nests.
Indeed. Although it may be a stretch to refer to a political Mafia who shakedown constituents and accept bribes from special interests as public “servants.” And once again, Palin’s personal experience with nest feathering is invaluable.

3) The moment you threaten to strip politicians of their legal graft, they’ll moan that they can’t govern effectively without it.
What politicians refer to as contributions and earmarks are what citizens regard as graft. And while the politicians make a lot of noise about cleaning up Washington, they have no genuine interest in doing so.

4) [T]heir idea of reform is to limit the right of “We the people” to exercise our freedom of speech in the political process.
It is unclear what Palin is referring to here because she has not exactly been forced into silence, much to America’s dismay. But 26 journalists covering OWS have been arrested so far. What’s more, the GOP is working at the state level to suppress voting for millions of citizens, primarily seniors, students, and minorities.

5) [T]he only solution to entrenched corruption is sudden and relentless reform.
Could Palin have come up with a phrase that better describes OWS? When protesters occupied Zuccotti Park in Lower Manhattan it was a spontaneous response to an untenable situation. And the fact that they planted themselves in the park, and other sites across the country, demonstrates just how relentless this movement intends to be.

6) We need reform that provides real transparency.
Welcome to the club, Sarah. Progressives have been arguing for more openness by government and public agencies for years. And a major component of the OWS agenda is the reversal of the Citizens United decision by the Supreme Court that permits corporations and others to bankroll political initiatives without revealing their identity.

7) We need equality under the law.
Absolutely! Equality and fairness and a sense of shared sacrifice. It is time for the wealthy, who have benefited more from their position of privilege than anyone else, to be treated equally under the law. No more special treatment. Palin should give this more than lip service.

8) No more sweetheart land deals with campaign contributors.
This is just another method of funneling bribes into the pockets of politicians and it must stop. Including the land deals where politicians advocate on behalf of contributors to get oil leases in protected wild spaces in Alaska.

9) [N]o transitioning into a lobbying career after leaving office. No more revolving door, ever.
Here is another plank of the progressive platform that has been beaten down by entrenched politicos every time it was proposed.

10) This call for real reform must transcend political parties. The grass-roots movements of the right and the left should embrace this.
Amen!

Now, is Sarah Palin actually getting behind Occupy Wall Street? Of course not. She undoubtedly considers them unclean, unfocused, and un-American. But the positions she appears to advocate here could be interpreted as aligned with the goals of OWS, even if it is entirely accidental on her part. Perhaps she deliberately plagiarized the platform in a desperate attempt to steal some of its popularity for herself. There is a delicious irony in that Palin has published this piece in Murdoch’s paper. You could say that these ideas have Occupied the Wall Street Journal, albeit from a back entrance.

[Share this infographic on Facebook]
Sarah Palin OWS

Fox News Insults #OWS and Latinos With One Phony Story

Just in case anyone was still unconvinced that Fox News is a shameless purveyor of propaganda that peddles its dishonest tripe in a manner that is patently biased, take a look at these treatments of a recent headline story:

Fox News Bias

It’s not bad enough that Fox News tries to associate a violent, mentally ill criminal with the Occupy Wall Street movement despite the police stating unequivocally that there was no evidence of any connection, but Fox also has to rewrite the story for their Latino news division in a manner that features the race of the suspect even though it is irrelevant to the story.

Nice job, Fox. You have now insulted a broad-based protest movement whose goals are shared by 70% of the American people, as well as the nation’s fastest growing minority group. Keep up the good work.

Banksters Plotting A Propaganda Offensive Against Occupy Wall Street

Chris Hayes has acquired a memo from a well-connected group of Washington lobbyists to the American Bankers Association. The memo proposes launching a comprehensive campaign against the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement with an $850,000 budget and an intent to “undermine their credibility.” Hayes begins his expose saying that…

“Speaker Boehner’s lobbying buddies are proposing a hit job on Occupy Wall Street. [...] The former Boehner aides, who now lobby for Wall Street, sketched out a strategy for deploying proxies to shill for Wall Street and against Occupy without the public knowing.”

The lobbyists’ memo (pdf) goes into detail as to how they would deliver on their promise to suppress the impact of OWS and to punish their defenders whether they be Democrats or Republicans. In fact, the lobbyists are particularly worried about GOP defectors:

“Leading Democratic strategists have begun to openly discuss the benefits of embracing the growing and increasingly organized Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement to prevent Republican gains in Congress and the White House this year [...] However, the bigger concern should be that Republicans will no longer defend Wall Street companies – and might start running against them too.”

That’s a revealing admission that the OWS message has a much broader appeal than is generally acknowledged. It is not insignificant that when Speaker Boehner was confronted with the allegation that Republicans are the champions of Big Business, rather than proudly embrace his constituency, Boehner attempted to shift the criticism to President Obama by asserting that the President’s campaign was the biggest recipient of Wall Street donations. Obama has indeed received a considerable sum from the sector, but most of his contributions are from small donors. And since the Obama administration has been an advocate of financial reform and regulation, and created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau despite industry opposition, it could be said that the Banksters didn’t get much for their money. Further affirming the mass popularity of the OWS message, the memo continues…

“Well-known Wall Street companies stand at the nexus of where OWS protestors and the Tea Party overlap on angered populism. Both the radical left and the radical right are channeling broader frustration about the state of the economy and share a mutual frustration over TARP and other perceived bailouts. This combination has the potential to be explosive later in the year when media reports cover the next round of bonuses and contrast it with stories of millions of Americans making do with less this holiday season.”

The biggest nightmare of this crowd is that OWS and the Tea Party will unite against the One Percenters. An notice that the lobbyists are not concerned with the actual suffering of “millions of Americans making do with less this holiday season,” only the wrenching perception of that fact when juxtaposed with the extravagance and greed of the Wall Streeters whose holidays will be abundantly joyful. That’s why the lobbyists and their Bankster clients need to demonize OWS as lazy, dirty, violent, unfocused, etc. But the lobbyists’ memo appears to recognize that that tactic has not worked:

“It may be easy to dismiss OWS as a ragtag group of protestors but they have demonstrated that they should be treated more like an organized competitor who is very nimble and capable of working the media, coordinating third party support and engaging officeholders to do their bidding.”

Indeed, it is easy to use puerile insults to dismiss OWS, a role that Fox News has embraced with relish. But we are beginning to see the shift from ridicule to respect as the Banksters realize that this movement is competent, committed and has the support of the public. So the response from the lobbyists is to smear the group’s members and spread lies about its composition. The memo even reprises the false assertion that George Soros, a favorite villain of the right, is funding OWS. Then it continues to propose an analysis of OWS’ “extremist leaders” to construct “negative narratives for high-impact media placement,” otherwise known as propaganda.

Finally, the memo outlines an electoral strategy that targets races in battleground states like Florida, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Wisconsin, Ohio, New Mexico, Nevada, and North Carolina. These are all states that Obama won in 2008. In addition to this effort, they offer to “provide cover for political figures who defend the industry.” It’s a full service operation, after all. Watch the video from UP w/Chris Hayes here:

Fox Nation vs. Reality: On The Occupy Wall Street Assassin

More dishonesty from Fox Nation. This time the Fox Nationalists posted an item with the provocative headline, “Man Linked to ‘Occupy’ Protest Charged With Attempted Assassination of Obama”

Fox Nation

Fox News ran a story with the same deceptive theme. They hosted Michelle Malkin to engage in a discussion that was deliberately designed to smear the Occupiers. During the segment they displayed a picture of the suspect, Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez, with a caption that said: “‘Occupy’ Shooter.” There was no question mark or other qualifying notation to indicate that this was merely speculation on the part of Fox News.

For the record, the only link between this guy and the Occupy movement is the one invented by Fox. The Washington police have stated unequivocally that they have no evidence that he was affiliated in any with the protesters. Reports that he may have tried to hide in the crowds at the Occupy DC site should not surprise anyone. Any densely populated location would attract somebody trying to elude law enforcement. A football game or an Alzheimer’s Walkathon would serve the same purpose.

What little is known about Ortega-Hernandez would likely lead objective analysts to suspect him of being a Tea Bagger. He is said to be anti-government, hates President Obama, and has a history of mental illness. Could that be Glenn Beck in a fake beard?

ABC News Lists The Wealthy 1% Influencing Politics – But Leaves A Few Out

ABC News has published a list of what they call the “Top 8 Most Powerful Businessmen Influencing Politics.” It is a testament to the success of the Occupy Wall Street movement that a mainstream news organization is even attempting to tackle this issue.

Prior to OWS there was nary a peep about the appalling and dangerous wealth gap in America. The pundits and politicians had a single-minded focus on deficits and ignored the larger question of how they accumulated throughout the Bush administration via tax cuts for rich, off-the-books wars, and irresponsible deregulation.

The Occupy movement has completely shifted the debate to the more relevant issue of economic equity and the abuse of power by corporations and their wealthy proponents. That shift is the reason that ABC News has, for the first time, published a list of One Percenters who influence politics. Unfortunately, the list is woefully incomplete:

  • Koch Brothers
  • George Soros
  • Warren Buffett
  • Jeffrey Katzenberg
  • A. Jerrold Perenchio
  • George Kaiser
  • Howard Schultz

ABC seems to be going out of their way to be non-partisan. The problem with that approach is that the ranks of the wealthy are not themselves non-partisan. Here are a few more Republican power brokers that ABC omitted – and every one a billionaire:

  • Rupert Murdoch
  • Philip Anschutz
  • Sumner Redstone
  • Donald Trump
  • Steve Wynn
  • T. Boone Pickens
  • Arthur Blank
  • Meg Whitman
  • Richard Scaife

The noticeable leaning of wealthy businessmen to the conservative side ought to have been acknowledged by ABC. This is especially true given that so many of them are their colleagues in the media. It is particularly conspicuous that ABC left Rupert Murdoch off of their list given that he may be the world’s most prominent influencer of politics with both his blatantly biased news enterprises and his personal generosity toward conservative causes.

Other than these egregious omissions, it is encouraging to see the mainstream press starting to recognize the imbalance in this nation’s economic and political systems. And for that we can thank the Occupiers.

Andrew Breitbart Joins Fight Against Fat Cats

Right-wing propagandist, Andrew Breitbart, has jumped feet first into the battle against the wealthy 1%ers. Known primarily as a mouthpiece for the conservative elite and Republican power mongers, Breitbart is now attacking someone for having attained a comfortable lifestyle amongst the upper crusties.

Andrew BreitbartBreitbart sent his stalkers to photograph what he calls the “vacation mansion” of this tycoon who is “so wealthy that he does not need to worry about his income,” and enjoys “the kind of luxurious summer home that 99 percent of Americans can only dream of owning.”

This scoop ranks highly amongst Breitbart’s notorious journalistic accomplishments. He is the media patron of video lie-ographer James O’Keefe. He is the perpetrator of the libel that got Shirley Sherrod fired from her position at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. He orchestrated the campaign against former congressman Anthony Weiner. Most recently he published stolen emails and attempted to recruit his readers to find material to embarrass the Occupy Wall Street movement (he failed to turn up anything).

And now Breitbart has launched an attack against a successful American entrepreneur for having the audacity to spend lavishly from his own earnings. It may be surprising to hear Breitbart staking out this position that seems to align with the views of the 99% of the nation that is protesting the economic inequities in our system. But it is less surprising when you know that the target of Breitbart’s ire is filmmaker Michael Moore. In an effort to soft-pedal his criticism, Breitbart dials back his outrage to assert that…

“No one begrudges Moore his wealth, but it is deceitful for him to claim poverty while encouraging class warfare among other Americans. It is also purely narcissistic and selfish for Moore to back radical and destructive socialist policies that would deny other Americans the opportunity to become as rich as he is.”

Despite his assertion, Breitbart is explicitly begrudging Moore his wealth. His clear implication is that Moore is a hypocrite. But the 99% movement has never been about opposition to financial success. It’s about opposition to corruption, and the undue seizure of power. Contrary to Breitbart’s brazen lie, Moore never claimed poverty. He openly acknowledges his success, for which he is unreservedly grateful. And he does not advocate class warfare. Like the rest of those in the Occupy movement, he merely seeks fairness and an economic environment that allows everyone to prosper. And he understands that democracy is best served when all the people’s voices are heard, not just the barons who bankroll elections.

Shared Sacrifice

Conservatives are all for the free market and the accumulation of wealth so long as as the recipient is an approved member of their club. When someone like Moore, or Warren Buffett, or Bill Gates, or Al Gore, or many other millionaires, speak out on behalf of those with lesser fortunes, people like Breitbart just can’t figure it out. These folks are not declaring war against themselves. They recognize the greater economic benefits of a society that offers affluence to all. It enhances their own financial prospects and makes the country stronger.

But it will always be anathema to the Breitbarts of the world who yearn for exclusivity amongst their ranks. God forbid they might have to rub elbows with the riff-raff. And that’s why Breitbart is reduced to stunts like peering over the hedges of well-off folks that he doesn’t happen to like. If that seems creepy to you, then you are a good judge of character.

Americans Ditching Big Banks By The Tens Of Thousands

The Occupy Wall Street movement has had a profound effect on changing the topic of debate in this country. A couple of months ago the only subject the media would entertain was the national debt and federal spending. Today the conversation has veered to economic inequities and the abuse of corporate power.

An ancillary to the Occupy agenda that arose a few weeks ago is the call for Americans to Move Your Money from big, impersonal banks, to local community banks and credit unions. That initiative climaxed last Saturday as the day designated “Bank Transfer Day.”

By any measure it was a resounding success. The Credit Union National Association reports that $80 million was moved into their member institutions on Saturday alone. For comparison, the CUNA notes that on an average day in 2010, they opened 1,643 new accounts. On November 5th, they opened 40,000 new accounts. Could anyone have predicted this level of success?

Move Your Money

One person whose predictions were typically some distance from reality was Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly. Last Friday he engaged Geraldo Rivera in a debate that ended with a brief discussion of the Bank Transfer Day.

Rivera: “Tomorrow there’s a Bank Transfer Day. This is a concrete thing. They are saying ‘Take your money out of the Bank of America. Take your money out of J. P. Morgan Chase. Take your money out of these big banks and put them in small credit unions.’ What if that comes out to tens of millions of dollars in bank transfers?”

O’Reilly: Let me just tell you something. Nobody’s gonna do that. Number one, those people don’t have any money and nobody’s gonna listen to them because they lost credibility.

Ya think O’Reilly will acknowledge his error now that he has been proven to be a lousy prognosticator? Do you think he will address the fact that 650,000 new accounts were opened in the month prior to Bank Transfer Day? That’s more than the total number of new accounts opened in all of last year. Do you think the big banks will stop pretending they don’t care about customers fleeing because they aren’t profitable customers? Yeah, me neither.

Anatomy Of A Fox News Manufactured Political Scandal

It was a blustery November morning. I was in my mother’s basement Tweeting waffle recipes to chums in my Marxist study group. My fingers were still sticky with maple syrup. Then she walked in. Or rather, she showed up in my Google news alerts. Her name was Winter, and it fit her like an Old Navy Fleece hoodie. Jana Winter. She said she was a reporter for Fox News. I should have known right then that she couldn’t be trusted. Everyone knows there aren’t any reporters at Fox News.

Fox News - ACORNWinter had been writing articles about how ACORN, the group of community organizers that ceased to exist more than a year ago, was secretly still operating and was behind the Occupy Wall Street protests. Her stories were obvious fabrications that posed absurd theories wherein the bankrupt ACORN could somehow afford to pay homeless people tens of thousands of dollars to attend rallies that were already populated by thousands of genuine protesters who attended for free.

Winter wrote three progressively more delusional articles on this subject in as many weeks. She was able to be so prolific because she never bothered to gather any actual evidence or testimony from anyone other than anonymous sources. The first article laid out the imaginary ACORN plot to subvert capitalism from beyond the grave. The second alleged that the resurrected ACORN, spooked by Winter’s first article, scrambled to destroy every remnant of its reincarnated existence. Once again, almost every assertion was absent an attribution. Winter is a master at coaxing incriminating confessions from ghosts.

But it’s the third article that reveals the depths of Winter’s deviousness. After laying the groundwork for a scandalous tale of corruption and clandestine schemes, Winter’s latest composition divulges the efforts of Darrell Issa, Congress’ self-appointed hall monitor, to bully the Department of Justice into launching an investigation of the gossip spread in Winter’s columns:

“In a letter dated Monday, Issa, R-Calif., called for U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch of the Eastern District of New York to launch a probe into allegations first reported by FoxNews.com.”

Notice the meticulous attention to journalistic precision in Winter’s description of Loretta Lynch as the Attorney General. That would be an interesting detail if it happened to be true. But even more interesting is the way she refers to “allegations first reported by FoxNews.com” without noting that she is talking about herself. It was her own reporting from which Issa derived his accusations of scandal. Several times in the article Winter cites “reports from FoxNews.com” and even noted that “Issa’s letter quotes from the initial FoxNews.com report.” Later Winter added that “Issa also referenced a second FoxNews.com report.” That second report was also Winter’s handiwork.

So what we have here is a circular wheel of affirmation wherein a Fox News “reporter” invents a phony scandal by writing thinly sourced articles that allege fraudulent activity by a defunct organization. Then a United States congressman cites those articles as evidence that an investigation should ensue. Then the same Fox News reporter writes an article about the congressman’s request for an investigation. I suppose that the next thing we’ll see is Issa citing the Fox News report on members of Congress demanding that the Justice Department investigate. And around it goes.

To be clear, there is absolutely no evidence of any wrongdoing by the non-existent ACORN, the New York Communities for Change (NYCC), whom Winter and Issa are slandering, or the Occupy Wall Street movement. Winter’s articles contain dozens of citations from anonymous sources that are uncorroborated. Yet in the latest article she doesn’t even bother to attempt to interview anyone representing the other side of Issa’s baseless accusations (fair and balanced?).

To her credit, Winter notes the inherent problem with bias in the media on the part of influential news enterprises:

“A leading force in online journalism appears to be making a strong effort to be anything but fair and balanced.”

The only problem is that she is not referring to the bias in her own reporting. That quote was from an article she wrote last month criticizing Arianna Huffington for “injecting her endorsement of the demonstrations into her media outlets’ coverage of the events in lower Manhattan.” It’s another proud moment for Winter who has somehow managed to out Huffington as a liberal. Who knew?

Winter has a bright career ahead of her, so long as she stays at Fox News. She doesn’t know who the Attorney General is. She doesn’t know that the Huffington Post is not a neutral media outlet. She doesn’t know how to compose an article without relying solely on anonymous sources and right-wingers. She doesn’t know that it’s bad form to cite herself as a source for subsequent reporting without disclosure. Best of all, she is not the least bit embarrassed by exhibiting her ignorance in public. If she’s an attractive young blond then she is everything Fox News could hope for.

And therein lies the mystery. Why isn’t she already appearing as part of Bill O’Reilly’s harem? Why hasn’t she filled in for Gretchen Carlson on Fox & Friends? Does Megyn Kelly have some nasty dirt (or dirty pictures) on her? Who can say? As for me, I’ve got bigger fish to fry and can’t be distracted by every dame that Fox throws in my path. Winter’s a big girl and can take care of herself. She’s demonstrated her willingness and ability to peddle Fox’s snake oil with the best of them. And she is adept at feigning being shocked – SHOCKED – to find that there are ACORN shenanigans going on here.