LOCK HER UP: Fox News Stands Alone With Praise For Aspiring Dictator Donald Trump

The second presidential debate is now a part of history, and that’s not just a figure of speech. In a campaign that has set ugly precedents and breached common standards of decency from its inception, Donald Trump has once again lowered the bar. He has let his inner dictator emerge in full view of millions of viewers and citizens.

Donald Trump Hillary Clinton

During a debate wherein Trump engaged in free-range falsification of reality, there was one moment that stood out. It was an exchange in which Trump took the extraordinary position that as president he would instruct his Attorney General to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Hillary Clinton.

TRUMP: “I didn’t think I’d say this but I’m going to say it, and I hate to say it, but if I win, I am going to instruct my attorney general to get a special prosecutor to look into your situation.
CLINTON: It’s just awfully good that someone with the temperament of Donald Trump is not in charge of the law of our country.
TRUMP: Because you’d be in jail.

The “situation” to which Trump referred has to do with Clinton’s emails and the private server she used. Never mind that an extensive investigation was already completed by the FBI. While they found some room for criticism, they concluded that there were no actionable violations of the law.

Trump, however, doesn’t care about the law as evidenced by his prejudgment to jail Clinton before any investigation or trial. It’s a position that stands in stark contrast to every legal precept in a democracy. Former Attorney General Eric Holder noted that in a statement saying “In the USA we do not threaten to jail political opponents.” George Bush’s press secretary Ari Fleischer agreed saying that “Winning candidates don’t threaten to put opponents in jail. […] Trump is wrong on this.”

For the most part the media recognized the aberrant legal analysis that Trump was proposing. Like much of what he says on any subject, he demonstrated his pitiful lack of knowledge or even basic understanding. Here are a few examples of how the press views Trump’s ludicrous threat.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN: We got an excellent moment right now to discuss something I’ve never heard in any of these debates before between two presidential candidates […] One candidate says not only is he going to put forward a special prosecutor to investigate his rival, but he’s going to put her in jail if he’s elected president of the United States. That’s pretty extraordinary.

DANA BASH, CNN: What makes this country different from countries with dictators in Africa or Stalin or Hitler or any of those countries with dictators and totalitarian leaders is that when they took over, they put their opponents in jail.

JOY REID, MSNBC: We need to not speed past the point that an American candidate for president threatened to jail his political opponent. […] This happens in Malaysia, this happens in Uganda. This does not happen in the United States of America.

VAN JONES, CNN: A line was crossed that I don’t know has been crossed in my lifetime, maybe ever. He threatened to jail his opponent. […] He threatened to jail Hillary Clinton if he became president of the United States. That is something that I think is a new low in American democracy.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC: Donald Trump also said, in one of the most provocative comments of the evening, he said that if he was president, he would jail his political opponent. He would put Hillary Clinton in jail. That is the sort of thing that we usually decry in other countries, in authoritarian countries.

PAUL KRUGMAN: Let’s be clear: a candidate for president promised to put his opponent in jail if he wins. Everything else is secondary.

JAKE HOROWITZ, MIC: A few politicians who have jailed their political opponents: Putin, Erdogan, Chavez, Mugabe, Pinochet. Noriega.

DAVID FRUM, speechwriter for George Bush: Who would consent to serve as Attorney General to a president who believed he could direct prosecutions of his political opponents?

By contrast, Fox News presented a somewhat different perspective. Their primetime star Bill O’Reilly gushed that “That’s the smartest thing he did all night because that, just that, coalesced his base back together.” And contributor Scott Brown said that “It was the line of obviously, I think, the election, the debate process. […] it was a home run. I thought he won the debate.” Nowhere on the “fair and balanced” Fox News was there a contrary opinion like that expressed by Clinton’s campaign spokesman Brian Fallon:

“That is the comment of a dictator that you expect to hear in a banana republic — the idea of jailing your political opponents.”

And that pretty much sums it up. Trump has presented himself as a narcissistic authoritarian from the outset of his campaign. His racist proposals to ban immigrants on the basis of religion; his incitement of violence toward protesters; his proclamations that “I alone” can defeat ISIS, or reform the tax code, or repeal ObamaCare, or end street violence. These are all indications of Trump’s belief that as president he can act unilaterally and impose his will the nation. And let’s not forget his open hostility to the media upon whom he promised to seek revenge.

These are the thoughts and actions of a budding tyrant. Anyone who can contemplate putting Trump at the head of the U.S. government and military is playing with fire. Trump has shown us who he is, and it’s a frightening picture of autocratic oppression. If he were to become president, Hillary Clinton would not be the only opponent he would throw in his gulag. Guantanamo would be packed with his critics and any random liberals who offend him.

Really? Fox News Thinks Rachel Maddow Is Too Biased To Moderate A Debate

Howard Kurtz, host of MediaBuzz on Fox News, wrote a column today that might have consumed the world’s supply of chutzpah. In the column Kurtz took MSNBC to task for having the audacity to let their biggest star, Rachel Maddow, co-moderate a Democratic debate. Of course, that’s something that Fox has done itself with their hot property, Megyn Kelly, but never mind that. Kurtz is very upset.

Megyn Kelly

The headline of the article asked this pressing question: “Why did MSNBC put Rachel Maddow on the debate stage?” The question was apparently so easy to answer that Kurtz managed to handle it all by himself.

Kurtz: Rachel Maddow did a pretty good job in questioning Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders at MSNBC’s Democratic debate last night. (…) She is smart and passionate, a Rhodes scholar with a deep knowledge of the issues. She did not roll over for Clinton during a recent interview on her prime-time show.

Well, with a track record like that she should never be allowed anywhere near a candidate debate. The last thing Fox would want is a smart, knowledgeable, fair person to facilitate a political discussion. That certainly isn’t the way they do it. Fox has taken great pains to make sure that all of their presenters are cut from the same moldy conservative cloth. And yet, Kurtz can still pose this scenario as if it weren’t utterly oblivious to reality:

“Imagine the reaction on the left if the Fox News moderators at a debate were Bret Baier and Sean Hannity, an unabashed conservative. The criticism of Fox for fielding such a team would have been intense.”

Of course, the truth is that Fox’s moderators are unabashed conservatives, which I’ll get to in a moment. But first it is important to note that Kurtz couldn’t simply praise for Maddow without qualifying it by insisting that, despite her evident skills “she shouldn’t have been on that stage as a moderator,” and that “she should not have been put in that position,” because “she is an unabashedly liberal commentator who rips the Republicans every night on her program.”

If that is their criteria for choosing debate moderators then Fox has some explaining to do. Their own debate moderators have included relentless liberal bashers like Megyn Kelly, one of the most stridently partisan purveyors of propaganda on the Republican PR channel (aka Fox News). She spreads more lies about Benghazi than any of her Fox colleagues (and that’s saying something). She was caught leading a discussion that was based on a series of “Fox Facts” that were cribbed directly from a Republican National Committee press release. She made a point of informing her viewers that it was a fact that both Jesus and Santa Claus were white.

Media Matters did a survey a couple of years back that showed that Kelly “has hosted conservatives (56%) significantly more often than progressives (18%) and has surpassed even Fox’s Hannity in its divide between guests on the left and right.” That’s the same Hannity that Kurtz used in his imaginary scenario about unabashed conservatives. And in March she will host her third debate on Fox News.

Also moderating for Fox was Neil Cavuto, the Glenn Beck of business news. His first question in the debate he moderated asked the candidates which of their economic plans God would endorse. He has made it his mission to castigate low-income Americans as sponges and leeches who are actually living the good life at the expense of the one-percent. He is a committed climate-change denier. And he frequently has segments about alleged government waste that usually turns out to be completely bogus (like this on about the famous shrimp on a treadmill).

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

With blatantly biased moderators like this on Fox, Kurtz has the gall to complain about Maddow, even as he admits that she has all the qualifications for a moderator and that she acquitted herself well. What more does he want? His complaint obviously doesn’t have anything to do with Maddow’s ability to perform with proficiency and fairness, so the only thing left to explain why he would devote a column to this whining is his own bias and partisanship. Or perhaps he was ordered to do it by his boss, Roger Ailes, as a slap at Megyn Kelly’s time period competition. Expect to see more of this Maddow bashing on his Sunday morning program.

Rand Paul Follows Ted Cruz To Sean Hannity’s Fox News/GOP Welcoming Party

Yesterday marked the arrival of the second official candidate for the Republican Party’s nomination for President of the United States. Kentucky senator, and former self-certified ophthalmologist, Rand Paul placed himself in contention for the nomination at the Galt House in Louisville. For those fortunate enough to have never slogged through Ayn Rand’s tedious and preachy novel “Atlas Shrugged,” John Galt is a leading figure who is best known for epitomizing the childish “take my ball and go home” philosophy of social interaction.

Rand Paul 2016

In what may signal a trend in the GOP’s strategy for launching a political campaign, Paul went straight from the Galt House to Sean Hannity’s House at Fox News for his first post-announcement interview. That is exactly what Ted Cruz did after announcing his candidacy at Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University, where students were threatened with fines if they did not attend. Perhaps Fox News has implemented the same policy wherein Republican candidates will be fined, or otherwise punished, if they do not pay their respects to Hannity before proceeding with their campaign.

While it is no surprise that GOP presidential wannabes would kowtow to Fox News (aka the PR division of the Republican Party), it is a demonstration of their arrogance that they are not at least trying to disguise their biases for the sake of appearing to be credible. Apparently that ship has sailed, been commandeered by Fox pirates, and is now rusting on the ocean floor.

As for Paul, he delivered what he called a “a message that is loud and clear and does not mince words.” Indeed, it was loud. And that message turned out to be decades old sloganeering whose words relay nothing of substance: “We have come to take our country back.” It’s easy to mock this theme by asking simply “back to what?” From all appearances, Paul wants to take us back to the Reagan years, with its soaring deficits, crushing unions and working people, abandonment of the poor and mentally ill to the streets, and illegally bankrolling foreign terrorists with money made from selling arms to terrorist states.

However, the more interesting question is who does Paul mean when says “We?” The “we” that he is leading so that he can snatch the country back from the citizens who twice elected Barack Obama, are the bankers, oil barons, and other privileged elites who he would free from regulations that protect the public from their greed and abuse. Paul is a favorite of the Koch brothers and, of course, Fox News kingpin, Rupert Murdoch.

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Available now at Amazon.

It will be interesting to see how the rest of the GOP roster rolls out their campaigns. Marco Rubio is anticipated to be next in line. He would be smart to skip the Hannity ring-kissing ceremony, if just to differentiate himself from the pack. After all, he could go straight to Megyn Kelly and still satisfy his bosses at the network.

And just for fun…

Paul was famously outed as a plagiarist by Rachel Maddow who noticed that his speeches were curiously identical to the Wikipedia page for the movie Gattaca. If that seems like an odd source for staking a false claim of authorship, then what do we make of his having designed a logo for his presidential campaign that appears to be a rip-off of the logo for the hook-up site, Tinder?

World on Fire

I’m just asking. And while we’re at it, why do both Paul and Cruz feature flames in their logos? Is it to convey their belief that “the world is on fire,” as Cruz told a frightened little girl?

UPDATE: Marco Rubio did indeed make Hannity his first media stop. That makes Hannity and the GOP field three for three.

Rachel Maddow: Fox News Has A Bill O’Reilly Problem (Or Do They?)

Last night Rachel Maddow reported on the downward spiral of Bill O’Reilly’s already shaky credibility. Since reports last month about his false statements placing him “in a war zone…in the Falklands,” the cascade of additional lies has accelerated exponentially. Just keeping up with the new revelations is difficult, so News Corpse provided this handy summary:

Bill O'Reilly

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On her program Maddow ran through a partial list of the lies exposed so far, including the Falklands affair, the misrepresentations of his experiences in Northern Ireland and El Salvador, and his blatantly dishonest account of being present when a figure associated with the Kennedy assassination committed suicide. She spent a fair amount of time on the latter, with audio tapes of O’Reilly debunking himself. But a highlight of her report was the response she got after requesting a statement from Fox News:

“We asked them for comment of the substance of the allegations. What they sent us was a lot of information about how great Bill O’Reilly’s ratings are.”

That’s a fairly typical response from the Fox News PR department that seems to think that having a large number of easily duped viewers is evidence of truthful reporting. To the contrary, it’s the fact that there are so many gullible Fox watchers that makes lying to them so easy. What Fox defenders fail to understand is that volume does not equal quality. McDonald’s is the number restaurant in America, but few people would say that it has the best food.

Maddow’s commentary on O’Reilly was couched in a dialogue that addressed what happens “when cable news goes wobbly.” She related the O’Reilly situation to other incidents of the sort of error-prone reporting that occurs when being first is more important than being right. However, O’Reilly has had years to shape his storytelling and, if necessary, correct the record, but instead has repeated the falsehoods with every new opportunity. This makes it clear that his intent all along has been to deceive. And that’s a problem for both him and the network he represents. As Maddow said…

“The Fox News channel has a problem now. They have a problem with the face of their network, their flagship anchor, having all of this stuff trailing him around with no plausible explanation for what exactly he said and did and why they haven’t tried at least to fix it. The network has also not apologized or retracted any of Mr. O’Reilly’s overt threats to other reporters who have just covered this story about the real credibility they have got with him right now.”

Indeed, O’Reilly has the highest rated program on Fox News. He is the first person most people would think of if asked to name a Fox News personality. And he is a pathological liar. However, the rational observation that that would be problematic for Fox may not be entirely accurate. After all, Fox News has made its reputation by lying incessantly in support of their right-wing political agenda. They slander liberals and exalt conservatives. They ridicule progressive policies and push those that advance the interests of the conservative elite. So the question of whether or not O’Reilly hurts Fox needs further analysis.

There is no shortage of examples of Fox’s brazen dishonesty and disregard for journalistic ethics. Their mangling of the truth was baked into their pseudo-news recipe from the day they debuted. So why would it trouble them if their featured anchor is a proven prevaricator? In fact, O’Reilly is the perfect representative of the Fox brand. He’s the biggest liar on the network of lies. If the bulk of your programming is littered with partisan bullcrap, than Bill O’Reilly isn’t a problem at all. He’s your poster boy.

News Corpse Presents: The ALL NEW 2nd volume of
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

To Rachel Maddow: Fox News Doesn’t Give A Fig About Bill O’Reilly’s Lies And Threats

The scandal engulfing Fox News, and its star blowhard Bill O’Reilly, is picking up steam as well as new allegations of dishonesty and flagrant self-glorification. The latest episodes of O’Reilly inventing harrowing journalistic adventures include his false assertion that he was present at the suicide of a figure associated with the assassination of John F. Kennedy, and his claim to have witnessed nuns being executed in El Salvador.

The initial response to the evidence that O’Reilly repeatedly lied about his experiences in Argentina as a “war zone” correspondent “in the Falklands” was to launch an attack on the reporters who exposed him and the so-called “liberal” media overall. He called them “liars, guttersnipes,” and “far-left zealots.” Even worse, when approached by a reporter from the New York Times he warned her that if he was unhappy with the story “I am coming after you with everything I have. You can take it as a threat.”

Bill O'Reilly

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Last night on MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Show, the issue was raised to inquire as to whether O’Reilly’s turpitude might disturb his employers or colleagues (video below). Maddow did an excellent job of explaining the events that led up to O’Reilly’s threats, but then she entertained the following scenario:

“Fox News has a bunch of folks like Mr. O’Reilly on their shows. It’s part of why I call them Republican TV. But they also have a lot of real reporters on staff who do real reporting all day long on real news. They have White House correspondents, and congressional reporters, and even media reporters. And I’m sure they don’t take kindly when their own reporters get threatened for trying to do their jobs. But it is hard to imagine what this is going to do to the work environment at Fox News Channel for the Fox News Channel’s real reporters, and they do have them.”

Maddow surely has decent intentions in characterizing Fox News as a network that employs real reporters. However, there is scant evidence that it is true. Their main anchor, Bret Baier, presides over a daily roasting of President Obama. Their chief White House correspondent, Ed Henry, is a deeply biased right-winger with open hostility to the President. Their media analyst, Howard Kurtz, went out of his way to defend O’Reilly in an embarrassing display that evoked either fear or fawning or both.

But one thing in particular that Maddow said was way off the mark. It is not hard at all to imagine what this is going to do to the work environment at Fox News. It isn’t going to do a damn thing. As fake news guy Jon Stewart correctly pointed out: “No one’s watching [O’Reilly] for the actual truth.” And referencing O’Reilly’s “No Spin Zone” tag line Stewart noted that “Misrepresenting the zone he is in is kind of his hook.”

Fox News is a network born of deceit and devoted to the dissemination of propaganda. They couldn’t care less if they are discovered to be distorting reality because that is what they were created to do. Their founder and CEO, Roger Ailes, has no scruples when it comes to stuffing his roster with partisan clowns, as evidenced by the existence of Steve Doocy, Sean Hannity, Judge Jeanine Pirro, Donald Trump, Elizabeth Hasselbeck, Keith Ablow, and, of course, Bill O’Reilly.

When some of his mouthpieces began to fray at the edges of sanity, Ailes admitted to keeping them on the air long after he had determined that they were detrimental with justifications that were purely political. The reason Ailes gave for putting off Beck’s departure was that he “didn’t want to give MoveOn and Media Matters the satisfaction.” And with regard to why he re-signed Sarah Palin after first letting her contract expire, he said that he hired her back to “piss off the people that wanted her dead.” How does that comport with the production of “real news.”

As for O’Reilly, he is a known ratings winner who satisfies the lust for wingnut outrage that boils in the withering hearts of the Fox News audience. Ailes isn’t going to risk that without some intense pressure being applied, and maybe not even then. He knows that O’Reilly is a hate monger whose persona is dripping with animus and ego. A study done a few years back by Indiana University revealed the depth of O’Reilly’s bullying attitude:

“The IU researchers found that O’Reilly called a person or a group a derogatory name once every 6.8 seconds, on average, or nearly nine times every minute during the editorials that open his program each night.”

Consequently, Fox News is well aware of how O’Reilly behaves and they approve. The only thing that might impact their decision to stand by him is if advertisers bail out in droves, which is what happened to Glenn Beck. And then they still kept his show on for a period of time to avoid looking like they caved in. In O’Reilly’s case, they would more likely announce his retirement after some twenty years on the network. It would then be announced that he would produce occasional specials and continue to write books about killing people. Which is an especially appropriate legacy for a bully like him to pursue.

News Corpse Presents: The ALL NEW 2nd volume of
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

Media Matter and MoveOn have a petition calling for Fox News to Hold Bill O’Reilly Accountable. Go add your name to it and let the advertiser community know that America’s television viewers aren’t going to stand for this.

Fox News Suffers Worst Ratings In Thirteen Years – And That’s Not Their Big Problem

Fox News has fallen and it can’t get up. Ratings for the month of May 2014, have just been published, and the numbers are devastating for Fox News. While still occupying the top slot among the cable news networks, Fox saw about a quarter of its audience dissolve across every demographic group and time period.

Go Fox Yourself
[More cable news ratings here.]

Every Fox program in primetime dropped by double-digits, with Bill O’Reilly taking the deepest dive. Sean Hannity posted some of his lowest numbers ever in his new 10:00 pm time slot. And Megyn Kelly’s new, and highly anticipated, primetime show failed to improve on the ratings performance of her predecessor.

To be sure, Fox was not the only network to see declines. In fact, CNN had an even larger dip. The news was much better for MSNBC who was down the least of all the cable news networks. They lost a relatively insignificant five percent of total viewers, but actually saw increases for Morning Joe, and for Chris Hayes and Rachel Maddow in primetime.

For Fox to post numbers that they haven’t seen since August of 2001 (before 9/11) is a painful blow to both their reputation and their bank account. But they have even bigger problems. The viewers that do tune in to Fox are significantly older than viewers of their competitors. Fox News has always had the oldest skewing audience in cable news. With a median age of 68.8 years, Fox’s audience is over six years older than either CNN or MSNBC. It’s even worse for their top rated program (O’Reilly) who’s average viewer is over 72 years old. And their Great Blonde Hope (Kelly), who was specifically brought in to draw younger viewers, also exceeded Fox’s average with her typical viewer voyeur being over 70.

An analysis of the audience composition for the three cable news networks shows that, of Fox’s total audience, a pitiful 20% are in the 25-54 age group favored by advertisers. It’s even worse for their primetime schedule where only 15% fall into that group. That compares to CNN with 30%/35% respectively, and MSNBC with 31%/28%. In other words, CNN and MSNBC draw 50% more total viewers in the younger demos, and they double Fox’s ratio in primetime.

This makes it all the more curious that Fox News is barreling forward with a strategy to viciously insult their biggest viewer bloc. Recently, Fox regular Karl Rove launched an attack on Hillary Clinton with vile inferences that she is “old and stale” or perhaps brain damaged. Expressing such open contempt and belittling of the capacity for older persons to be effective leaders is not a particularly sound way to ingratiate oneself with the senior citizens that make up the bulk of ones audience.

Shameless self-promotion…
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Apparently Fox is not satisfied with alienating African-Americans and Latinos and women and youth and the middle-class and workers and, of course, most of America’s liberals and moderates. Now they are aiming to narrow their appeal even more by driving away the last remnants of their audience – senior citizens. Keep up the good work, Fox.

Rachel Maddow Beats Fox News – Again

For the second time this year, Rachel Maddow pulled off a weekly ratings win against Fox News in the critical 25-54 demographic that advertisers prefer.


Available now on Amazon: Fox Nation vs. Reality. Get it today.

MSNBC has been enjoying a bit of boost with daily breaking coverage of Chris Christie’s BridgeGate scandal. And thanks to Christie’s determination to impede the investigation the story just keeps getting prolonged which, of course, provides more opportunities for MSNBC to rake in the ratings.

Rachel Maddow is one of the prime beneficiaries of this situation. She was the first cable newsie to report on Christie’s bullying tactics and she has consistently broken new developments. As result she is seeing her ratings spike significantly.

Megyn KellyMaking this even more significant is the fact that Maddow is beating Megyn Kelly, who was promoted to her prime time slot specifically to try to capture more of the younger audience that Maddow is drawing. For her to have another weekly win so soon may be a warning flag that Kelly isn’t appealing to the audience that Fox intended. In fact, Kelly may just be exacerbating Fox’s older skewing, predominantly male audience who tune in for the titillation that Fox deliberately exploits.

In addition to Maddow’s numbers, Chris Matthews has also been bumped up. He beat his Fox competition, Greta Van Susteren, for the week as well. It is clear that having substantive reporting that viewers find valuable is the most effective way of building an audience. And MSNBC should strive to more of that. Or they could try the Fox model of just making shit up that feeds the prejudices of low-information viewers. That seems to work too.

Christie’s Bridge-Gate Scandal Boosts Rachel Maddow To Ratings Victory Over Fox News

Rachel Maddow

The dominance of Fox News in the Nielsen ratings for cable networks has not been seriously challenged for most of the past several years. There have been periods that looked promising for the competition, particularly the months between the Democratic National Convention and the presidential election in 2012. During that time MSNBC was beating Fox on a regular basis as President Obama was doing the same to Mitt Romney. That trend was still in effect as late as January of 2013 when Fox reported steep declines in the key 25-54 demographic, while MSNBC shot upward.

Fox-MSNBC Ratings

However, that state of affairs did not hold as the nation settled into a new year with the excitement of electioneering behind them. There would be little drama in the ratings race for the next few months. Eventually, Fox would enjoy a rebound as they ramped up their coverage of various scandals that they had been carefully crafting with their Republican allies. But even then they were suffering losses of the younger viewers that advertisers favor.

Last week, however, saw an unexpected bounce for MSNBC, and particularly Rachel Maddow. Her ratings in the demo thrust her into the number one spot for the whole week, ahead of Fox’s newly minted prime time star Megyn Kelly. Chris Matthews also benefited by tying the week with Greta Van Susteren, and Lawrence O’Donnell scored clean victories over Sean Hannity on a couple of days. This turnaround was surprising during a post-holiday lull, but there is a possible reason for it.

Maddow and her colleagues may have Chris Christie to thank for their ratings success. Their rising fortunes began at the same time that Maddow broke the story of the George Washington Bridge tantrum thrown by the Christie camp as political payback to unsupportive Democrats.

Let’s face it…Scandals have the same power to drive ratings in political news as they do in soap operas. The last ratings spike that Maddow enjoyed was when a video of Romney appeared showing him casting aside 47% of the American electorate as lazy moochers. And, as mentioned above, Fox exploited their own scandal sheet last may to recover from a long slump.

What this tells us is that, in order for MSNBC to consistently rise above Fox, they need to have as effective a scandal factory as Fox has. That’s a tall order because Fox has big head start in manufacturing fake scandals and the phony outrage that accompanies them. And for a network like MSNBC that has yet to exhibit much of an aptitude for inventing controversies that don’t exist in reality, they have some catching up to do.

Of course, Republicans have been more than generous in producing scandals for themselves, as the Christie affair so clearly demonstrates. The problem is that the so-called liberal media has not been especially good at taking advantage of the opportunities that were laid in their lap. But if MSNBC or CNN want to seriously challenge Fox’s ratings dominance, they had better show some improvement in that area in the future.

Rachel Maddow Whomps Megyn Kelly’s Premiere On Fox News

Last night Fox News debuted a new primetime lineup. It was the first time they had altered their schedule in more than a decade. They heavily promoted the changes and the new hosts for weeks. And on the the big night, when most new programs enjoy a ratings bump due to viewers sampling the new fare, Fox News did not get what they must have been expecting.

The top billing for the night went to Megyn Kelly, whose “Kelly File” has been eagerly anticipated by Foxophiles and received massive PR in advance of the debut. Unfortunately for her, she came in second to MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow in the key 25-54 year old demographic.

Rachel Maddow
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It would be bad enough for a Fox host to lose to an MSNBC show under ordinary circumstances, but to trail on the one night that ought to have been a runaway victory is a major embarrassment for Kelly and Fox. There were no extenuating circumstances that might have contributed to an unexpected win for Maddow. For instance, she did not have an exclusive interview with President Obama wherein he announced that he really was born in Kenya after all. And Kelly’s show had booked the GOP flavor of the week, Sen. Ted Cruz (TX-Tea Party), as her first guest, so she ought to have been well positioned to draw in the Fox fanatics in bulk. But it was not to be.

What’s more, Greta Van Susteren, who had moved from 10:00pm to 7:00pm, lost to MSNBC’s Chris Matthews. And Sean Hannity, who lost his 9:00pm slot to Kelly and took over the 10:00pm time that Van Susteren vacated, could only manage a tie with MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell. The only win for Fox the whole night was by their perennial top dog, Bill O’Reilly, who bested Chris Hayes, the newest MSNBC host who has yet to find an audience.

These dismal performances by Fox programs are all the worse because the network had poured so much money and promotional muscle into the evening. It was their intent to inject new blood into the schedule in order to attract the younger, advertiser-favored demos that have avoided Fox like the plague. That goal was clearly not met – at least on the debut. And just to rub it in, MSNBC achieved their ratings victories with the same old shows they’ve had on for years and no extra promotion.

Rest assured that Fox programming executives are already huddling to figure out what went wrong and how to correct it. Kelly and the others may yet return to their perches atop the ratings tree. But they will still have little influence over the broader television audience who recognize Fox for what it is: the PR division of the Republican Party and the Tea Party cheerleading squad. Remember, Fox’s top rated programs only reach 1% of the American people, and the garbage that they ingest (see Fox Nation vs. Reality) just makes them ignorant, ineffectual, and filled with ghastly surprise when they lose elections.

[Follow Up: 10/27/2013] It is now three weeks since this article was published and I still get commenters giddily noting that Kelly’s ratings improved on subsequent nights. SO F**KING WHAT? This article is about the premiere episode and it even notes that her ratings may improve later. These FoxPods just can’t seem to focus on single topic.

Glenn Beck: “I’ve Never Been Called A Conspiracy Theorist In My Life”

I had intended to write an article this morning congratulating President Obama on his selection of Susan Rice for National Security Adviser and Samantha Power to succeed Rice as U.N. Ambassador. Not only are these two public servants brilliant and capable, the GOP will regard their appointments as a poke in the eye, which they thoroughly deserve. I intended to further note that Power was singled out by Glenn Beck as the “most dangerous woman in America,” at least partly because she is married to Cass Sunstein who Beck has called the “most dangerous man in America.” And then all my plans were upended when this happened:

Rachel Maddow recently did a segment on how the right-wing media has been mainstreaming conspiracy theories once thought to be beyond the fringe. She went into great detail with examples of batty theories and the people who propound them. Included amongst the theorists were folks you might expect like Alex Jones and Glenn Beck.

Apparently Glenn Beck took offense. He devoted a considerable portion of his program to swinging back at Maddow and questioning her “intellectual integrity.” [I’ll wait for you to stop laughing and get get back into your chair — OK then] Beck took particular aim at the suggestion that he is a conspiracy theorist. He even went so far as to make this explicit declaration in his defense:

“I’ve never been called a conspiracy theorist in my life.”

Glenn Beck

Oh my. This may be the best example of severe detachment from reality that’s ever played out in public. It was just one week ago that Beck bitterly complained that there is “a concentrated effort now to label me a conspiracy theorist?” How he can go from a concentrated effort to label him, to never having been called a conspiracy theorist, in only one week is mind-boggling. But it isn’t just a matter of acute short-term memory loss, Beck has been addressing allegations of his conspiracy theorism for years:

  • Oct 6, 2009: I don’t have a stealthy agenda, but I’m still called “conspiracy theorist.”
  • Jan 11, 2010: It’s funny to be called a conspiracy theorist because I’ve always made fun of conspiracy people.
  • Aug 17, 2012: You talk about a conspiracy theorist, you know, me being a conspiracy theorist, I didn’t get the decoder ring in the box of cereal.
  • Jan 8, 2013: When they try to make me look like like a conspiracy theorist, they always use [Alex Jones’] arguments and assign them to me.
  • May 10, 2013: And the media smeared anyone who said these things. I know because I was one of them. I pointed out the truth. I showed you the truth. Early. I was a conspiracy theorist. I was a crazy man.

Beck has got to know that he is frequently called a conspiracy theorist (and with good reason). It’s simply impossible for him not to be aware of it after all these years and after all of his own references to it. So what could come over him that would cause him to deny that he was ever called one? Can he really be that delusional? Or is he just so confidant of the mental squishiness of his audience that he doesn’t care at all about trying to be the least bit coherent?

No matter how many times Beck demonstrates his shaky grasp of reality, it continues to amaze me that someone with such cognitive impairment is capable of attending to the routine chores of daily life, much less turn his dementia into a financial bonanza.