American Exceptionalism = American Supremacy

There has been a mini-furor swirling around part of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s op-ed in the New York Times. It was mostly a fairly tame composition that called for reflection and diplomacy. However that didn’t stop right-wing blowhards from waxing apoplectic, seemingly outraged that Putin had the audacity to express himself publicly. And the height of his hubris, in the view of conservative thought-nannies, was his criticism of that stale symbol of superiority, American Exceptionalism.

Putin: It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation. There are big countries and small countries, rich and poor, those with long democratic traditions and those still finding their way to democracy. Their policies differ, too. We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord’s blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal.

How can the theo-con rightists take issue with that? By doing so they abandon principles they ordinarily regard as core to their philosophy. Neither their spiritual idols nor their nearly spiritual fixation on the “Founders” can live harmoniously with the concept of exceptionalism. What would Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence and its assertion that “all men are created equal,” have to say about this?

The truth is that American Exceptionalism is another way of saying American Supremacy. The campaign for such a concept is as repulsive as Hitler’s doctrine of a Master Race. The notion that one group of people, on the basis of their nationality, are better than others, is as odious as one group asserting superiority on the basis of skin color. The original meaning of the phrase had more to do with defining Americans as an “exception to the rule.” It was modern bigots who perverted it into an expression of overarching greatness.

Fox News

Not surprisingly, Fox News is leading the parade for American Supremacy, as they have done for years. This morning, Fox & Friends aired a segment that touched on Putin’s remarks (The segment was also featured as the lead story on the Fact-Free Fox Nation web site). But Fox legal analyst Peter Johnson, Jr., and host Steve Doocy were barely coherent as they slid over to a more general discussion of a Syrian intervention and how Putin’s commentary makes it more likely:

Johnson: What’s happening, and I don’t know if Mr. Putin wants to do it or not, but he’s provoking a lot of Americans into a position that maybe, maybe they should be in agreement with the President’s decision to strike Syria. [...] If they keep it up, then they will push America to the brink of a Syrian attack. I don’t know if that’s the intended consequence or not, but that will be the effect.

If you had trouble making sense of that, you’re not alone. Johnson has somehow formed the opinion that Putin might want the U.S. to attack Syria. How he comes that conclusion is puzzling, to say the least, and is nowhere in his comments. Putin, of course, has no incentive to support a strike on Syria and, in fact, has been vociferously against it. Indeed, his opposition was the central theme of the New York Times op-ed that Johnson and Doocy were discussing:

Putin: The potential strike by the United States against Syria, despite strong opposition from many countries and major political and religious leaders, including the pope, will result in more innocent victims and escalation, potentially spreading the conflict far beyond Syria’s borders. A strike would increase violence and unleash a new wave of terrorism. [...] Syria is not witnessing a battle for democracy, but an armed conflict between government and opposition in a multireligious country. There are few champions of democracy in Syria.

The one thing Putin left out of that passage was that amongst the many countries having a strong opposition to a strike is the United States. Polls show the American people want no part of another conflict in the Middle East. Putin’s words might just as easily come out of the mouths of Republicans like Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, and any random Tea Party pundit. And to top it off, lefties like Sen. Bernie Sanders, Rep. Alan Grayson, and MoveOn.org are just as adamantly opposed.

To recap, before President Obama had responded to Syria’s chemical weapons attack, Fox and the right complained that he wasn’t doing anything. After Obama threatened to punish Assad with military force, Fox and the right complained that he was overstepping his role and violating the Constitution. When Obama announced that he would seek congressional approval for a strike, Fox and the right called him weak and vacillating. After the threat produced a new diplomatic course that would rid Syria of its Chemical weapons, Fox and the right accused Obama of following in Putin’s footsteps. In the end, a diplomatic solution that avoids military force, the outcome preferred by Fox and the right, is now achievable through the joint efforts of Obama and Putin. Therefore, obviously, Fox and the right have come out against it and are castigating both presidents for having succeeded in averting a new war.

Warning: Any attempt to find any logic or cognitive consistency in any of the above summation could result in a severe brain hemorrhage, loss of consciousness, and permanent cerebral disability.

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BREAKING: Obama Does Something, Fox News Opposes It

This just in from our Washington bureau. The White House has announced that President Obama will be taking decisive action on a critical foreign and/or domestic policy matter effective immediately.

Fox News Alert
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The American people are paying close attention and we will be monitoring their reaction to this story as we indoctrinate them with the approved response. In the meantime, we have twenty or thirty Fox News contributors and Republican operatives standing by to renounce the President’s move as irresponsible, premature, overdue, and too costly, divisive, and impractical. Some analysts are already saying that it won’t work and is politically motivated.


That is pretty much the standard Fox News response to anything that President Obama has done for the past five years. And today is no exception. Shortly after the news broke that the administration had filed charges against several suspects in the attack on the diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Fox went to work implementing the above protocol. One of the most entertaining, and farthest removed from reality, instances occurred (where else) on Fox & Friends.

Substitute host Clayton Morris asked Fox legal analyst (and Rupert Murdoch’s personal attorney) Peter Johnson, Jr. “What took so long?” Johnson bit into the leading question with a tirade of absurdity that began with his accusation that the filing was purely political.

Johnson: After a terroristic act, after an act of war in which four Americans were killed and others wounded, we’re gonna take this to the civil courts [...] because there’s no will in this government today to bring people to task in a military sense. If we’re really engaged in a worldwide war on terror, which the White House doesn’t like to admit, then we’re gonna act in ways that are consistent with times of war.”

Johnson’s assertion that these charges will bring the suspects into a civil court illustrate just how dishonest he is from the start. He is a lawyer and knows very well that the charges filed are for criminal, not civil, violations. Johnson and Morris also belittled the filing of charges because they were not followed up with an arrest, even though they well know that the United States has no power to arrest foreigners in other countries. These charges are a preliminary measure taken so that if the suspects are apprehended by Libyan authorities, there is a pretext for requesting extradition.

But even more ridiculous is Johnson’s characterization that the Obama administration “has no will” to prosecute terrorists “in a military sense,” or that his actions are not “consistent with times of war.” After all, this is the President who orchestrated the killing of Osama Bin Laden and dozens of high-ranking Al Qaeda operatives. Johnson is aware of these facts, he just chooses to suppress them in order to disseminate his lies.

This is an all too predictable reaction from the Fox News team that is more fixated on disparaging the President than on delivering actual news. They regard their mission as misinforming their audience of weak-minded goons and muddying the political discourse. It’s something they are quite good at as long as they are dealing with gullible and incurious viewers. Fortunately for Fox, that is pretty much their key demographic.

Fox News Freak-Outs: How The Big Bully Of Cable News Fizzles Under Fire

In the cable news business there is one network that relentlessly boasts about its prominence and formidable presence above all others. Fox News is clearly taken with itself and is even promoted in their own ads as “The Most Powerful Name In News.” That makes it all the more curious that Fox seems to shudder when confronted with opposing arguments.

Fox News
This article was also published on Alternet.

Fox News is often the subject of well-deserved criticism due to their aversion to facts and a long record of strident bias. However, their first reaction to reasonable rebuttals is to go on the attack against their perceived enemies. It is behavior reminiscent of schoolyard bullies with marshmallow centers who struggle to mask their hurt feelings with forced bluster. What follows are seven examples of just how thin-skinned this allegedly powerful network really is, and how prone they are to whining when they get smacked down.

At a press conference President Obama astutely noted that the penchant Fox News has for punishing Republicans who dare to work cooperatively with Democrats has the effect of discouraging Republicans from such cooperation. That rather modest observation sent Fox News into a tizzy. Jumping immediately to the most absurd stretches of hyperbole, Steve Doocy of Fox & Friends fired up the outrage machine to accuse the President of attacking, not merely Fox News, but the First Amendment. Meanwhile the determinedly dishonest Fox Nation web site declared the President’s remarks to be a threat. How Obama was infringing on freedom of the press or threatening anyone was never explained.

In an interview Al Gore commented on Fox News and right-wing talk radio saying “The fact that we have 24/7 propaganda masquerading as news, it does have an impact.” Rather than try to dispute the obvious truth of Gore’s comment, Fox’s Peter Johnson, Jr launched into a harangue about Gore permitting a news enterprise based in the oil-producing nation of Qatar to buy his network, Current TV. Yes, that had nothing to do with Gore’s remarks, but it did serve Johnson’s purpose of blindly lashing out at Gore for daring to besmirch Fox.

Author and military foreign policy expert Tom Ricks was invited on to discuss his new book, The Generals. Fox host Jon Scott thought he could get Ricks to join Fox’s crusade to blame Obama for the tragedy in Benghazi, but Ricks wasn’t cooperating and told Scott that “I think that the emphasis on Benghazi has been extremely political, partly because Fox was operating as a wing of the Republican Party.” That was apparently too much for Scott who abruptly ended the interview less than 90 seconds after it began. After taking criticism from other media for that self-serving censorship, Fox VP Michael Clemente doubled down and disparaged Ricks for not having “the strength of character to apologize.”

Greta Van Susteren saw an opportunity to whimper about how mistreated Fox is when she complained that the State Department had left them off the mailing list for a couple of news briefings. She called it “a coordinated effort” to punish Fox by “denying Fox access to information.” What she failed to disclose was that the State Department had previously explained that they had only notified news organizations that had reporters assigned to cover the department and that, having none, Fox didn’t get on the list. But that explanation didn’t stop Van Susteren and others at Fox from assailing the administration for an imagined snubbing.

In a debate over whether or not NBC had ever criticized President Obama on the use of drones, Bill O’Reilly falsely claimed that the drone story never appeared on NBC. In fact, it was NBC who broke the story. The following night, after much ridicule for his egregious mistake, rather than apologize and set the record straight, O’Reilly lashed at the “loons” who were engaging in “more deceit from the far left.” As usual, any critical analysis of O’Reilly or Fox News is viewed as liberal Fox-bashing and is met with name-calling and vilification.

Fox’s Juan Williams is one of the network’s alleged lefties. When he made a disturbingly racist comment about his fear of flying with Muslim passengers, he was let go by his other employer NPR. The reaction from Fox News was swift and utterly repulsive. Fox’s CEO Roger Ailes lashed out in defense of his pet liberal saying of NPR that “They are, of course, Nazis. They have a kind of Nazi attitude. They are the left wing of Nazism.” Most people would regard that as something of an overreaction, but for Fox it is consistent with their characteristic vengefulness when they consider themselves under siege.

Perhaps the most frequent target of Fox’s vitriol is the watchdog group, Media Matters for America. By defining its mission as a monitor of conservative bias in the news, Media Matters has earned the undying enmity of Fox News. In the course of their persistent barrage of slander aimed at Media Matters, Fox has called the founder, David Brock, (without substantiation) a dangerous, self-loathing, mentally ill, drug user. Fox was so frightened by Media Matters that, in the week prior to publication of their book The Fox Effect, Fox News broadcast no fewer than a dozen derogatory pieces in a preemptive strike with segments on their most popular programs, including The O’Reilly Factor, Hannity, Fox & Friends, etc. It was the sort of blanket coverage they usually reserved for a natural disaster, a declaration of war, or a lewd TwitPic of a politician. Fox’s anti-Media Matters campaign even included solicitations on the air (more than 30 times) by Fox anchors beseeching their viewers to file complaints with the IRS challenging Media Matters’ tax-exempt, non-profit status.

These are just a few of the more notable instances when Fox has engaged in pronounced public wailing after taking flack from a critic. But it’s an almost daily occurrence for Fox to slap back at a politician, pundit, or even a celebrity, who utters something that Fox regards as unflattering. Just ask Bill Maher or Nas or Sean Penn. For a network that touts its powerfulness, Fox News behaves with the sort of tender sensitivity that is generally associated with sniveling weakness. They wildly lash out at critics and stubbornly refuse to acknowledge mistakes or accept responsibility when errors are pointed out. It is, to say the least, undignified, unprofessional, and immature, but it is the Fox way.

Al Gore Hurts Fox News’ Feelings, So Fox Bashes Current TV Sale Again

This morning on Fox & Friends, the kindergarten crew welcomed Rupert Murdoch’s personal attorney, Peter Johnson, Jr. (the man with three euphemisms for penis in his name), to engage in yet another round of bashing Al Gore for selling his Current TV network to Al Jazeera.

Fox News

In this episode, Johnson demonstrated an embarrassingly poor ability to make a cogent argument, which should worry his client Rupert who is engaged in numerous legal entanglements related to the News Corp hacking scandal in the UK.

Fox’s Gretchen Carlson introduced the segment with a video clip of Gore commenting on Fox News and right-wing talk radio, saying “The fact that we have 24/7 propaganda masquerading as news, it does have an impact.” It was that swipe at Fox that prompted this rehashing of old news. And rather than try to dispute the obvious truth of Gore’s comment, Johnson launched into his harangue about Gore permitting a news enterprise based in the oil-producing nation of Qatar to buy his network, thus affirming Fox’s status as The Whiniest ‘News’ Network Ever:

Johnson: This is the ultimate Lear Jet liberal who’s lost his mind. He is richer though. They made a half billion dollars on it. And you know the reason he said it’s a good sale? “I’m not gonna sell to Glenn Beck. I’m not gonna sell to American media folks. I am gonna sell to Al Jazeera. You know why? Because they’re the best at discussing climate change.” That’s like saying “I’m gonna sell it to the NRA because they’re the best at discussing gun control.”

Setting aside the fact that Johnson thinks Gore, who just made $100,000,000, has lost his mind, the case he is making defies logic. If it is, as Johnson says, like selling to the NRA who cannot report objectively on guns because they are proponents of guns, then Johnson is asserting that Current cannot sell to Al Jazeera and expect objective reporting on climate change because Al Jazeera is a proponent of climate reform measures. Except that Johnson just got finished criticizing the sale because Al Jazeera’s oil-rich Qatari base would oppose such measures.

So which is it? Is Gore a hypocrite for selling an environmentally conscious network to a bunch of fossil fuel fanatics? Or is he handing off his company to a news outlet that is going to advocate for alternative energy rather than cover the issue objectively? Johnson wants to characterize Al Jazeera as beholden to oil interests and biased against them at the same time. And he has the nerve to say that Gore has lost his mind?

It’s bad enough that Fox News is the public relations arm of the Republican Party. And it’s all the worse that they brazenly lie to fulfill that role. But do they have to be so staggeringly stupid while they’re at it?

Fox News: The Whiniest ‘News’ Network Ever

Earlier this week President Obama correctly noted that the penchant Fox News has for punishing Republicans who dare to work cooperatively with Democrats has the effect of discouraging Republicans from such cooperation. That rather modest observation has sent Fox News into a tizzy that all but validates the President’s point. They are simply incapable of processing anything this president says in a rational manner. In this case, all he said was this:

“One of the biggest factors is going to be how the media shapes debates. If a Republican member of Congress is not punished on Fox News or by Rush Limbaugh for working with a Democrat on a bill of common interest, then you’ll see more of them doing it.”

Fox News/Nation

That fired up the outrage machine at Fox. Fox Nation declared it to be a threat. Steve Doocy cast it as an attack on the First Amendment. Of course, any reasonable reading of it would find nothing approaching either of those wild overreactions. A threats implies consequences which were never articulated by the President. Nor was the First Amendment infringed upon because the free speech rights of Fox were never in any danger.

Doocy also lamented that Obama has some “scared Republicans in his camp.” By characterizing Republicans who have found some common ground with the President as “scared,” Doocy has also validated the President’s point that Fox punishes such agreement. In Fox’s world compromising with Democrats to move the country forward is evidence of cowardice. That sort of derision is exactly what Obama was referring to.

And it gets worse. Fox’s Peter Johnson, Jr. visited his kiddie pals at Fox & Friends to say that the First Amendment is now “seriously in doubt.” He interpreted Obama’s remarks to mean that the President regards anyone who disagrees with him as “an enemy of the state.” Where does he get this stuff? Johnson was so apoplectic about Obama expressing his opinion (which is also permitted by the First Amendment) that he wedded Fox News to the very concept of freedom saying “Without a free Fox, there is not a free America” Apparently, therefore, there was not a free America prior to 1996; there was not a free America during the entire Reagan Administration.

On the Fox News web site, fake Democrat Kirsten Powers wrote a scathing editorial bashing Obama as waging a war of terror on Fox News. She complained that “President Obama was back to his grousing about the one television news outlet in America that won’t fall in line and treat him as emperor.” Powers has gulped down massive quantities of the Fox Kool-Aid. But she is representative of the so-called Democrats that appear on Fox only to criticize other Democrats. The Fox version of fairness and balance is when Republicans and Democrats hate Democrats equally.

Ironically, the claim that the President makes about Republicans being vulnerable to Fox’s criticisms is one that Fox makes about itself. They consider themselves the last stand against the socialism they imagine is emanating from the White House. As Johnson said, they regard themselves as “the bulwark of our democracy.” Fox’s CEO Roger Ailes once assured Glenn Beck that he would have a free hand because “I see this as the Alamo. If I just had somebody who was willing to sit on the other side of the camera until the last shot is fired, we’d be fine.”

Fox freely admits that their intent is have an impact on government. They actually boast about the influence they have over representatives in Washington. Then, when the President notes that that is occurring, they explode with indignation over his alleged assault on freedom. It’s a cognitive disconnect that could span the Grand Canyon.

Most of all, it is whining of the highest order. No network bitches more about how they are perceived than Fox News. They spend innumerable hours complaining about their treatment by politicians, other pundits, and the whole of what they call the “mainstream media.” Sean Hannity has devoted whole programs to it. Fox & Friends denounces every media analyst as corrupt or even crazy. Bill O’Reilly has made the destruction of these scoundrels his life’s ambition, saying…

“[T]here is a huge problem in this country and I’m going to attack that problem. I’m going to attack it. These people aren’t getting away with this. I’m going to go right where they live. Every corrupt media person in this country is on notice, right now. I’m coming after you…I’m going to hunt you down [...] if I could strangle these people and not go to hell and get executed…I would.”

Setting aside O’Reilly’s insane vigilantism, the thing that Fox fails to understand is that the First Amendment applies to everyone, including the President. Fox seems to think that free speech is a one-way street and that if they express their brazenly biased views, anyone who who disagrees with them is trampling on their Constitutional rights. It’s a perspective that reeks of the censorship they pretend to be disturbed by.

Faux News Analyst Rails Against Faux News

Gretchen Carlson, ordinarily seen peddling GOP talking points as a co-host on Fox & Friends, was filling in as an anchor on Fox’s “America’s Election Headquarters” news program this morning when she introduced her guest:

“Fox News legal analyst Peter Johnson, Jr. thinks that Republican presidential hopefuls are being portrayed as a weak field by the liberal-leaning press.”

Actually, Republican presidential hopefuls are being portrayed as a weak field by pretty much everyone – including the Republican presidential hopefuls. Gingrich called Romney a liar. Santorum called Paul disgusting. Perry tagged Romney and Gingrich as the Washington establishment. Huntsman said…well, no one knows what Huntsman said because he can’t get on TV.

Conservative pundits from Karl Rove to Charles Krauthammer have lambasted the GOP candidates repeatedly. Tea Party leaders insist that they will not support one candidate or another. Even rightist icons like Dick Morris and Ann Coulter have admitted that they will probably have to hold their tongues and support the Republican nominee despite their lack of enthusiasm.

That said, legal analyst Johnson was bent out of shape over what he viewed as a liberal cabal to diminish the stature of the Republican candidates (as if they needed help). The source of his wrath was the allegedly biased reporting he encountered from what he called the “left-wing Politico” and “some of the less successful news channels.”

“GOP candidates are not only running against each other, but they’re also running against the mainstream media.”

He doesn’t explain how these news channels can be both less successful and mainstream. But he does go into some detail about the danger of misrepresenting oneself as a journalist.

“If you’re a commentator and an analyst – and I’m a commentator and an analyst – say you’re a commentator and an analyst. If you’re an activist, say you’re an activist. But to pretend that you’re a news person, to pretend that you’re giving a fair and balanced view of things, when in fact you have no credentials to do that, and your only history is to engage in activism, is to engage in politics, is to engage in propaganda, then that’s an unfair portrayal of the news to the American people.”

Well said. That’s exactly what I would have told Gretchen Carlson, who every day pretends to be a news person while having no credentials and engaging in propaganda. In fact, that little speech would apply to almost everybody on Fox News. It’s startling that Johnson was allowed to express himself so candidly. And Carlson deserves some credit for taking this criticism with such poise. It was like she didn’t even know that she was being harshly denigrated as an unethical hack.

I’m certainly going to save Johnson’s remarks so that I can refer to them whenever someone on Fox pretends to be a news person – which is pretty much whenever they are on the air.