Congress Allocates More Money To Phony Benghazi Investigations Than To Veterans

Two months ago GOP House Speaker John Boehner announced that he would concede to pressure from Fox News and the Tea Party by creating the House Select Committee On Politicizing Benghazi. He then packed the committee on the Republican side with rabidly partisan attack dogs, led by alpha dog Trey Gowdy of South Carolina.

Gowdy Doody

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Since that announcement there has been nothing of note to report. There are no scheduled hearings and no estimated timeline for the investigation. Count on it to drag out long enough for Republicans to exploit it during the 2016 presidential campaign.

The one bit of news that has just emerged is that the Speakers office has allocated $3.3 million to the committee for the current year. So after spending untold millions by four other partisan committees who, despite making wild predictions about White House malfeasance and cover ups, never found anything to support their manufactured accusations, they are now proposing to up the ante with no indication that the result will be any different.

To put the budgeting in perspective, the House Veterans Affairs Committee will only be receiving $3 million this year, even though they have more than twice as many members and a legitimate scandal to investigate with legitimate victims who continue to suffer. The Benghazi Circus will spend more in its first year than the Intelligence Committee which deals with numerous international matters that have far-reaching impact on national security.

The financial priority that is demonstrated by these budget choices is evidence that the Republican House is more obsessed with phony scandals and political sabotage than with actually solving real problems for the American people. The tragic events in Benghazi have always been merely a crude weapon for the rightist politicians and pundits who are fixated on destroying all things Obama. And the new committee is just another means of achieving political goals that they couldn’t achieve at the ballot box. This was illustrated with certainty when back in May of 2013, Fox News aired a tribute to their chief, CEO Roger Ailes, for his efforts as “The Driving Force” in “Keeping Benghazi Alive.”

Fox News Ailes Benghazi

This was one of the most brazen admissions of the abandonment of journalistic ethics ever broadcast. The arrogance they display with on-air graphics confessing that they “made terror attack a story” in response to a “push” by their CEO, is unprecedented. Credible news organizations do not permit executives to interfere with editorial decisions. But the operative word there is “credible,” which has never applied to Fox News.

FLASHBACK: Fox News Admits The Benghazi Myth Was ‘Pushed’ By CEO Roger Ailes

Somewhere in the bowels of the Republican led Congress, Speaker John Boehner and his lieutenants are plotting the formation of a strictly partisan committee to dredge up more slanderous falsehoods about the tragedy in Benghazi nearly two years ago. It’s the continuation of an effort that has produced zero evidence of any wrongdoing by the administration after months-long hearings by four other committees, as well as several investigations by independent agencies.

Fox News Ailes Benghazi

The Select Committee on Benghazi, to be chaired by a raving wingnut, is a gift to Fox News who has been lobbying for such a panel for more than a year. Leading that campaign is Fox’s own chairman and CEO, Roger Ailes. And if there were any doubt that this agenda was set by his directive, this video from May of 2013 should put that to rest:

Notable from this year-old broadcast is Fox anchor Steve Doocy’s remarks that proudly brag about the role that Fox and Ailes played in “pushing” the phony story.

“Fox News has been doing this story from the get-go. And the mainstream media, the Daily Show, has mocked us for covering Benghazi. And now everybody else is catching up. It’s been a story they’re realizing. One of the reasons we’ve followed it is Roger Ailes, our chairman and CEO. [...] Had Roger and Fox News not pushed this story the White House would have just left it in the dust.”

However, Doocy’s victory dance to celebrate Fox’s success in exposing malfeasance in the White House may have been somewhat premature. A year later there is still no evidence of anything untoward by President Obama or his team. And now that the economy has seen significant growth, unemployment has dropped to 6.3%, and ObamaCare has enrolled over eight million Americans, it must be time to opportunistically reprise the Benghazi affair. [And, by the way, the Daily Show is still mocking you]

Roger Ailes spent decades as a professional Republican consultant before being tapped by Rupert Murdoch to run Fox News. Ordinarily media executives do not interfere with the operations of their editorial departments, but such journalistic ethics have never been a part of the Fox News mission. Thus we see their CEO openly shaping news coverage, even influencing policy, and getting praised for it on the air by his employees.

This makes it all the more curious that Fox News is now feverishly chattering about a another White House email that allegedly discusses how the administration will respond to attacks by Fox News. Fox’s Catherine Herridge is aghast that such an email exists and that she can’t get her hands on it.

Fox News Email

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Setting aside the fact that every administration engages in media strategy, and that those discussions are legitimately confidential, Fox should be the network that is least surprised by this activity considering their aggressive attack posture with regard to this president.

When you have the CEO of a “news” network openly orchestrating negative coverage for a media enterprise that revels in anti-Obama hysteria, you cannot pretend to be surprised if the victims of those assaults choose to fight back from time to time.

Foxettes On Parade: Is Fox News Breaking The Massachusetts Upskirting Law?

This week a Massachusetts judge dismissed the conviction of a man who was caught surreptitiously taking photographs underneath the skirt of a female undercover transit officer. The dismissal was based on the judge’s contorted interpretation of the law that found that the woman was not “partially nude” and therefore not a victim.

The Massachusetts legislature quickly drafted and passed an amendment to the law that clarified what constituted a violation. Gov. Deval Patrick signed the bill Friday, making this statement:

“The legislation makes the secret photographing, videotaping, or electronically surveiling of another person’s sexual or other intimate parts, whether under or around a person’s clothing or when a reasonable person would believe that the person’s intimate parts would not be visible to the public, a crime.”

The media was all over this disturbing story with a nearly lascivious glee. It’s the sort of sex crime controversy that starts tabloid editors salivating. So it is not surprising that Fox News, the tabloidiest channel of them all, covered the story excitedly in their broadcast. However, Fox may be exposing themselves to legal liability due to their penchant for featuring the physical assets of their female hosts and guests.

Fox News Upskirting

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The evidence that is abundantly available of Fox News videotaping “under or around a person’s clothing” could be used against them in a court of law. If one of their employees were to press charges it wouldn’t be difficult to make a case given the thousands of hours of video proof. What’s more, executives at Fox have privately admitted that exploiting the sexuality of their nearly all-blonde roster of women presenters is a key part of their corporate culture. Gabriel Sherman wrote in his biography of Fox News CEO Roger Ailes, “The Loudest Voice In The Room,” that Ailes has repeatedly given direction to his staff regarding the display of female body parts. For instance:

  • When the view of reporter Kiran Chetry was obstructed, Ailes called the control booth to demand that they “Move that damn laptop, I can’t see her legs!”
  • Ailes complained about host Catherine Crier’s attire saying that “I did not spend x-number of dollars on a glass desk for her to wear pant suits.”
  • The casting of The Five included one particular co-host because “I Need The Leg. That’s Andrea Tantaros.”

megyn-kelly-gq2
Furthermore, NPR’s media reporter David Folkenflik was told by knowledgeable sources about the Fox News “Leg Cam” that “goes directly for the legs.” And when host Megyn Kelly was interviewed by GQ (with an accompanying, and revealing, pictorial), she was asked about her own “glass table that shows off your legs.” She responded that “Well, It’s a visual business. People want to see the anchor.” That must be why Bill O’Reilly wears those low-cut blouses. Also, when Gretchen Carlson was tapped to replace Megyn Kelly in daytime, she revealed that “pants were not allowed on Fox & Friends,” and teased viewers with the prospect that on her new show “I might forget my clothes the first day.”

It would fun to see Fox News get hit with an indictment for breaking the Massachusetts Peeping Tom law. But don’t hold your breath. The Foxettes are firmly committed to the mission of their employer despite the fact that they are being exploited as sexual objects. They know that their livelihood depends on the 60+ male demographic that makes up the bulk of their audience. So if they have to suffer the indignity of catering to those perverts, they suck it up, cash their hefty paychecks, and try to remember to keep their legs tightly crossed.

Sarah Palin Rehired At Fox News To ‘Piss Off’ People And Other Tales Of Temper Tantrums

What does Fox News CEO Roger Ailes have in common with New Jersey governor Chris Christie? They are both bullies who enjoy taking out revenge on their political enemies in the most childish way possible. [They are also a couple of jerks whose chunky frames are only outweighed by their inflated egos, and who have a deep and perverse mutual affection for one another] By now everyone knows how Christie sought to punish Democrats in Fort Lee by shutting down lanes on the George Washington Bridge, creating severe traffic jams, costing millions in productivity loss, and potentially endangering people’s lives. And now we learn, from Ailes himself, that his emotional maturity is similarly stunted.

In an interview with the Hollywood Reporter this week, Ailes was asked “Why bring back Sarah Palin just a few months after not renewing her contract?” His answer exposes him as a petulant little twerp who may be too senile to continue running a national news network.

Ailes: I’m not a defender of everything she says. I don’t hear everything she says. But I know she represents a certain group of people who rose up against their own party, which you rarely see. I probably hired her back, if you really want to get to the bottom of it, to give her a chance to say her piece and piss off the people that wanted her dead.

Indeed, Palin represents a certain group of Tea-sodden people, but they are fervently supportive of the far-right wing of their party (as is Ailes) and would never consider voting for anyone but a Republican. The fact that Ailes can’t cite as reasons for Palin’s rehire her superior intellect or insightful analysis says much about his disdain for both Palin and his audience. His management philosophy at Fox appears to include a mandate to inflict revenge on liberals who don’t even watch the network. In reality, the people who dislike Palin (this author included) couldn’t be happier that she is back on Fox News making an ass of herself and the network.

This isn’t the first time that Ailes has made a personnel decision that is rooted in childish vengeance. Last year, in a fawning biography that Ailes himself had solicited, he told the author why he had kept Glenn Beck on the air long after he had decided that Beck was a divisive figure who was costing the network advertising revenue. The reason Ailes gave for putting off Beck’s departure was that he “didn’t want to give MoveOn and Media Matters the satisfaction.” So Ailes permitted Beck to continue broadcasting his race-baiting, Nazi-inflected, conspiracy theories for several more months because he would rather poison the airwaves (and the minds of his viewers) with lies and hatred than to let his ideological adversaries think they had scored a victory.

Another example of the juvenile (and paranoid) brand of Ailes’ management style was revealed in an article this week in the Daily Beast. David Freedlander wrote in “Fox’s War Against Ailes Biographer” about the lengths to which Ailes will go to attack journalists who dare to write anything about the cable news overlord:

“Fox News has been waiting for [Gabriel] Sherman’s book [The Loudest Voice In The Room] to come out. According to interviews with a half-dozen former employees of what is known as the Fox News ‘Brain Room,’ the brain trust at the network has been following Sherman’s work for years. Although the so-called ‘Brain Room,’ located in the basement of Fox News studios, was supposed to be dedicated to research for the networks programming, two former news librarians describe an environment where they were frequently called to do opposition research about media reporters who were writing about Fox News or Ailes. Former employees described being tasked to investigate reporters from a variety of beats, including hunting down personal information such as voter registration that was used to determine how ‘Fox-friendly’ the reporter was.”

The use of a newsroom’s assets and personnel to carry out private vendettas is plainly unethical, as noted by NPR’s media reporter David Folkenflik. Folkenflik was himself a victim of Fox’s wrath and gave the Daily Beast his assessment of the toxic environment at Fox News:

“They are on a wartime footing. They approach this stuff in a very different way, in the way that a PR shop in a political campaign would. It is hard to imagine any other serious news outlet — The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, CNN — handling negative news stories in this way.”

And that’s pretty much the gist of it. Fox is perpetually at war. It is a theme that permeates their broadcasts whether it’s about a Class War or a War on Christmas, there is a built in hostility at Fox that infects its personnel on and off the air. It is why they regard anyone who disagrees with their editorial viewpoint as a hostile adversary. And that precise language was used in an ad that Fox placed in Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post:

Fox News Ad

[Update 1/11/2014] In response to Ailes claim that he rehired Palin to piss people off, Palin took to her Facebook page to say “Funny. I accepted for the same reason!” Proving that both Ailes and Palin are too stupid to grasp that her critics aren’t the least bit pissed off by her coming back to Fox and spewing her laughably ignorant drivel.

Unbelievable: How Fox News CEO Roger Ailes Distorted A Middle School Election

By now anyone who is paying attention knows that Fox News is a disreputable purveyor of heavily biased propaganda on behalf of the Republican Party and conservative politics. The network openly favors GOP/Tea Party pundits and politicians and has even been caught reporting Republican press releases verbatim as if they were independently sourced news stories.

Roger Ailes

Now an excerpt from an upcoming biography of Fox News CEO Roger Ailes provides an outstanding illustration of the mindset that runs Fox News. The book, “The Loudest Voice In The Room” by Gabriel Sherman, was excerpted in New York Magazine and includes a passage about how Ailes intervened with the reporting in a local newspaper he owns in Putnam County, New York, where he lives in a mountaintop estate. The entire excerpt offers a revealing look into the thought processes of Ailes as he seeks to dominate any environment in which he resides – even a small upstate New York hamlet and its local news, schools, and government.

Another drama erupted after a reporter named Michael Turton was assigned to cover Haldane Middle School’s mock presidential election. After the event, Turton filed a report headlined “Mock Election Generated Excitement at Haldane; Obama Defeats McCain by 2–1 Margin.” He went on, “The 2008 U.S. presidential election is now history. And when the votes were tallied, Barack Obama had defeated John McCain by more than a two to one margin. The final vote count was 128 to 53.” Reading the published version a few days later, Turton was shocked. The headline had been changed: “Mock Presidential Election Held at Haldane; Middle School Students Vote to Learn Civic Responsibility.” So had the opening paragraph: “Haldane students in grades 6 through 8 were entitled to vote for president and they did so with great enthusiasm.” Obama’s margin of victory was struck from the article. His win was buried in the last paragraph.

Turton was upset, and wrote a questioning e-mail to [editor Maureen] Hunt, but never heard back. Instead, he received a series of accusatory e-mails from the Aileses. Turton had disregarded “specific instructions” for the piece, Beth wrote. “Do you anticipate this becoming an ongoing problem for you?” A short while later, Roger weighed in. Maureen Hunt’s instructions to focus on the school’s process for teaching about elections had been “very clear,” he wrote, and Turton’s “desire to change the story into a big Obama win” should have taken a backseat. Ailes described himself as “disappointed” by Turton’s failure “to follow the agreed upon direction.”

The unfolding of events in this deliberate act of interference with a journalist’s role in reporting the news mirrors perfectly the sort of heavy-handed control that Ailes wields over Fox News. It is easy to see the parallels between this microcosm of journalism and the obvious distortions of reality that occur on Fox News every day.

This excerpt is a tantalizing morsel of what the book promises to deliver when it is released later this month. It is written in a compelling way, with credible sources, profound revelations, and dramatic flair. Consequently, we can expect Fox News to mount a fierce smear campaign against the book and its author as its release nears and in the weeks that follow. Indeed, it has already begun.

How Fox News Links ObamaCare To Falling Into An Orchestra Pit

“If you have two guys on stage and one guy says ‘I have a solution to the Middle East problem,’ and the other guy falls into the orchestra pit, who do you think is going to be on the evening news?” ~ Fox News Chairman and CEO Roger Ailes

The “Orchestra Pit” theory of news programming by Roger Ailes perfectly describes the way much of the mainstream media, and particularly Fox News, responds to current events. Whatever angle they can wrench themselves into that results in producing more superfluous melodrama is the one they choose, regardless of how far that diverts from real substance or even reality (see Fox Nation vs. Reality for some flagrant assaults on truth).

Roger Ailes

Yesterday the administration released data on the number of people who enrolled in new health insurance plans made available by ObamaCare. In the first month there were 106,000 people who got new plans via Heathcare.gov and the state-based exchanges. Almost immediately that number was decried as a catastrophic failure by the media. However, very few reporters actually provided the necessary context within which to view this data. They leaped at the opportunity to bellow ignorantly about what they characterized as an insurmountable defeat. Bill O’Reilly and Charles Krauthammer even discussed the possibility that this would herald the end of liberalism.

A more thorough analysis of the data shows that the magnitude of the fiasco was not nearly as pronounced as the media declared. First of all, everyone knew that there were functional problems with the website that would hamper enrollments. So to register surprise when numbers were released that fell below estimates made a year ago is plainly dishonest. The lower figures were expected by everyone involved and the feigned shock illustrates the devotion that media has for hysterical theatricality.

Furthermore, the numbers are not even all that bad despite the botched technology. Comparing this rollout to the rollout of RomneyCare in Massachusetts shows a similar pattern wherein enrollments started out slowly and rapidly increased as it got closer to the deadline. The Washington Post reported last month that…

“Just 123 people signed up during the Bay State’s first month of open enrollment. By contrast, 20 percent of the first year’s 36,000 enrollees purchased coverage in the last month before an individual mandate penalty kicked in.”

It is also notable that the states that provided their own exchanges signed up many more people than those that failed to do so. For instance, Kentucky’s exchange signed up five times more citizens than its exchange-less neighbor, Tennessee. Of the “Four Corners” states (Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah), only Colorado has its own exchange. But it signed up three times the number of citizens as the other three combined. In fact, California’s exchange enrolled more citizens than all 36 exchange-less states combined. What’s more, many in the media are conveniently forgetting that the expansion of Medicaid is also a part of ObamaCare. And 400,000 Americans now have health insurance through Medicaid as a result. That brings the total to half a million.

By this measure, with four months left in the open enrollment period, ObamaCare is on track to meet or exceed its estimates so long as the website problems are resolved, or people have adequate access to alternatives. But another factor that comes into play is the relentless attacks on ObamaCare by Fox News and other right-wing media. The consequences of this coordinated effort to frighten the American people include both dissuading new enrollments and prodding Congress to push for crippling legislation to delay and/or defund the program. It’s a self-fulling prophecy of doom wherein critics blast ObamaCare as failing to meet expectations, act to disparage and dismantle it, and then complain when it falls short of inflated expectations. Extremist right-wingers have been working furiously to sabotage ObamaCare, and it is no coincidence that almost every state without an exchange has a Republican governor and legislature.

The downside of this unfolding of ObamaCare news is the allegedly poor rate of enrollment. And on that matter, Fox obsessively focuses on negative reports that characterize the program as having tripped and fallen into a bottomless (orchestra) pit. But the other newsmaker on the stage is Obama’s plan that has provided 48 million Americans with access to health care that they had been denied previously. This solves a problem that prior administrations, going back FDR, have tried and failed to solve.

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It is a historic achievement, but the media is fixated on the website that fell into the Orchestra Pit, while ignoring the far greater achievement of making health care accessible to millions. So thanks, Roger Ailes, for helping the press to neglect what is truly important in order to promote relative trivialities and misrepresentations, and thereby advancing your personal agenda of Tea Party extremism and callous insensitivity toward those less fortunate than you. Despite your campaign to destroy a program that will bring life-saving relief to millions of Americans, the people are going to discover the benefits of this innovation and reward those who delivered it – and punish those who tried to kill it.

Fox News Hypes Roger Ailes’ Asinine Syria Strategy

The ever-shifting attitudes on the crisis in Syria by Fox News have already seen the network condemn President Obama for proposing that the White House take unilateral action against Syria, then complaining when the President brought Congress into the decision-making. They blasted Russian president Vladimir Putin for his alliance with Assad, then hailed him as deserving of a Nobel Peace Prize.

The only distinction between any of their positions and their subsequent contrary positions was where they thought Obama stood at the time. It’s as predictable as night following day. If Obama is for it, Fox fires on all cylinders to convince their gullible audience that there is something terribly wrong with it.

Fox News - Eric Bolling
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But Fox doesn’t always take an entirely negative approach. Sometimes they see a positive path to promote their kneejerk anti-Obamaism. Eric Bolling, co-host of Fox’s The Five, saw just such a path yesterday to advance a truly harebrained idea that was floated by Fox’s CEO, Roger Ailes. Bolling pretended that he just happened to be reading a sycophantic Ailes biography that was published a year ago (what took him so long), and discovered a passage that pertained to the current state of affairs in Syria. In a couple of rather vacant paragraphs, Bolling saw something so profound that he proclaimed that he was “about to blow your mind.” He then recited from the hallowed text of the book…

“Putin is angry. He thinks the United States doesn’t take him seriously or treat Russia as a major player. Okay, fine, that’s how he feels. If I were president, I’d get in a room with him and say, ‘Look at the slaughter going on in Syria. You can stop it. Do it, and I’ll see to it that you can get all the credit. I’ll tell the world it was you who saved the innocent children of Syria from slaughter. You’ll be an international hero. You’ll go down in history.’ Hell, Putin would go to bed thinking, ‘That’s not a bad offer.’

There will still be plenty of other issues I’d have with Russia. But instead of looking for one huge deal that settles everything, you take a piece of the problem and solve it. Give an incentive for good behavior. Show the other guy his self-interest. Everybody has an ego. Everybody needs dignity. And what does it cost? You get what you want you give up nothing.”

Let’s break this down. Ailes essentially proposed that Obama suggest to Putin that he should do something that he already knows he can do, and that he can do without any help from Obama. Then Obama is supposed to magnanimously offer to let Putin take credit what he (Putin) actually did. It’s a little like saying “Hey Roger. Why don’t you donate $10,000 to the Red Cross and, if you do, I’ll let you have all the credit.”

The proposal by Ailes is so devoid of substance that it can hardly be construed as a proposal at all. What’s more, it is ludicrous to think that Putin would have been interested in taking credit for leaning on Assad when Putin was allied with Assad’s efforts to defeat the rebels trying to depose him. Had Obama suggested that Putin tell Assad to retreat in the battle to preserve his rule, Putin would have gone to bed thinking “What a putz.”

Ailes seems to have no conception that “good behavior” is a subjective term and that it means something very different to Putin and Assad than it does to Ailes or Obama. It was the use of chemical weapons that upended the playing field and jolted Putin’s perspective to one that might find common ground with Obama and the rest of the civilized world. But that happened last month, not last year, and absent that, Putin would have laughed off any attempt to come between him and his pal Assad.

Eric Bolling has demonstrated that he is just as clueless as Ailes. His recitation of this dimwitted plan is nothing more than brown-nosing his boss and wasting air time to engage in rank self-congratulatory blather. Bolling has never distinguished himself as much of thinker, but this transparent act of vanity really drives home the point that he is incapable of original thought or coherent analysis. And that’s probably a good sign that he has a fair degree of job security at Fox News.

The Plot Thickens: Fired Fox News Exec Fires Back

Roger AilesLast week news broke that Fox News Executive VP of Communications, Brian Lewis, was terminated and escorted from the building by security. Vague charges of “financial irregularities” were asserted, but without specifics.

The termination was quickly followed by what appeared to be a coordinated smear campaign by Fox personnel, both in the office suites and on the air. It was suspiciously hostile treatment for a top aide to Fox CEO Roger Ailes, who had been with the network since it’s inception. This lead to speculation that the reasons for Lewis’ departure were likely different than those the company was offering.

[Read our previous story detailing the circumstances of Lewis' departure and an alternative explanation for the separation]

Now Gawker is reporting that Lewis has retained a high-powered attorney, Judd Burstein, and the tone of his public introduction suggests that some fireworks will be part of the battle between Lewis and Fox:

Burstein: I have just been retained and am still plotting our course of action. But two things are very clear to me. First, Brian Lewis no longer has any confidentiality obligation to Newscorp or Roger Ailes because of the false and malicious statements made by Fox to date. Second, Roger Ailes and Newscorp have a lot more to fear from Brian Lewis telling the truth about them than Brian Lewis has to fear from Roger Ailes and his toadies telling lies about Brian Lewis.

Yee-friggen-Haw! This sounds like it’s gonna be fun. The statement that any obligation of confidentiality is now moot is a blow across the bow of Fox News. It means that they know stuff and they’re willing to talk. It means that they are disputing the allegations of financial malfeasance, which means that there is another reason for the unceremonious sacking. And the frank language that casts Ailes and his henchmen as “toadies” is a clear indication that they mean business.

Fasten your seat belts. It’s gonna be bumpy ride.

Cloak And Dagger: Why Did Fox News Fire Roger Ailes’ Right-Hand Man?

Last month Brian Lewis was quietly escorted from the Fox News offices by security personnel. It is only now becoming known that this long-time employee was terminated under suspicious circumstances. The statement from Fox News said that Lewis, Fox’s Executive VP of Communications, was…

“…terminated for cause, specifically for issues relating to financial irregularities, as well as for multiple, material and significant breaches of his employment contract.”

No further statement from Fox was issued, and insiders are being characteristically silent as to the nature of the “financial irregularities.” However, there are good reasons to suspect that there is more to this than meets the eye.

Roger AilesLewis has long been identified as one of the closest associates of Fox CEO Roger Ailes. He was brought along to Fox with Ailes from their previous positions at CNBC. Having been with Fox since its inception, Lewis rose to a position of trust wherein his responsibilities covered everything from Fox News, to Fox Business, to the Fox television stations, and more. In addition, he was listed as a senior adviser to Ailes. His authority was broad and comprehensive. For Ailes to jettison him so abruptly he must have done something unforgivably terrible.

Adding to the curious nature of Lewis’ departure is the treatment he has received from official Fox spokespersons and even their on-air personnel. Lewis is now being portrayed as a nearly insignificant cog in the Fox family. They dispute the descriptions of him as an Ailes confidant. Apparently, at Fox you can be an executive VP from the network’s launch and still not be very important. Many Foxies piled on in the belittling of Lewis, including Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, Karl Rove, and more.

This is the sort of coordinated smear campaign that Fox generally embarks upon when they regard themselves as under attack. Ironically, it was Lewis who spearheaded these campaigns prior to his falling out.

In one example, Fox went after Media Matters in advance of their publication of the book “The Fox Effect: How Roger Ailes Turned a Network into a Propaganda Machine” They devoted hours of airtime to slandering Media Matters and its founder, David Brock, whom they called a mentally unstable drug abuser. Fox also aired innumerable segments challenging Media Matters’ tax exempt status in an effort to financially harm the organization. Funny, isn’t it, that Fox tried to get the IRS to punish what they falsely claimed was a political entity, and now they are condemning the IRS for allegedly doing just that to Tea party groups.

Another example is the campaign Fox ran against author Gabriel Sherman, who is writing a book about Ailes. This effort began with Ailes soliciting his own biography that was written by his hand-picked, sycophantic fluffer, Zev Chafets, in an attempt to beat Sherman to market. Then the war was escalated with personal attacks on Sherman, calling him a “phony journalist,” a “stalker,” a “harasser,” and “a [George] Soros puppet.” It is this Sherman angle that raises questions about the termination of Lewis.

Speculation is already surfacing that Ailes suspected Lewis of providing information to Sherman for his book. Ailes, of course, is notoriously paranoid and believes that Al Qaeda and the gays are out to get him too. However, if Lewis is a source for Sherman’s book he would surely have an abundance of juicy tidbits to unveil. Sherman himself wrote of Lewis’ departure from Fox and his account is both informative and provocative.

The likelihood that Lewis was engaged in something other than financial improprieties is pretty high. It is hard to believe that an Ailes loyalist for nearly two decades would suddenly become a common embezzler. Much more plausible is the theory that Lewis was persuaded to consort with an author with the intention of putting honest accounts into the record. That alone would mark Lewis as a traitor in the eyes of Ailes, and justify his expulsion from the Fox family.

Moreover, the familiar pattern that Fox follows by staging all-out war against anyone who dares to challenge their omnipotence is evident in the way they are hammering Lewis. If this were actually a routine dismissal of an errant employee there would be no need for the merciless bashing that Lewis is enduring. However, if Lewis was consorting with the enemy, this is precisely how Fox would respond.

This is a textbook example of a Fox News preemptive attack of the sort they launched on Media Matters and, previously, Sherman. It is something they believe would serve them later on should they need to discredit Lewis if his contributions show up in Sherman’s book. Most of all, it is not how a company ordinarily handles a sensitive personnel matter. But it is characteristic of the scorched-earth strategy that Fox employs when cornered.

[Update] See Brian Lewis’ response here.

Fox News Rewards Megyn Kelly’s Bootlicking Conservative Bias With A Promotion To Primetime

This just in: “Megyn Kelly will move to FOX News Channel’s (FNC) primetime lineup upon her return from maternity leave, announced Roger Ailes, Chairman and CEO, FOX News.”

Megyn Kelly GQThis was just a matter of time as Fox News has pretty obviously been grooming Kelly for a prominent role at the network from the day she was hired. Both Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes had taken a profound (and somewhat creepy) interest in her due to her pinup girl good looks, her background as a lawyer, and her eagerness to fulfill the Fox mission of slandering anyone and everything liberal without regard to honesty or ethics. (See Fox Nation vs. Reality)

Kelly fits the Fox mold to a tee, as a busty blonde presenter who would appeal to the Cialis-chomping, scooter-riding, gold-hoarding, geezers who make up such a large part of Fox’s audience and advertiser base. And Kelly is not shy about marketing her sex appeal as demonstrated by her pictorial in GQ Magazine.

As an anchor, Kelly has fashioned a more palatable version of Glenn Beck’s conspiracy-riddled wingnuttery. The stories she features are a collection of partisan tripe and manufactured outrages that have little basis in fact. From her near-obsession with the irrelevant New Black Panther Party, to her false accusations against then-Pennsylvania senate candidate Joe Sestak, Kelly has been a non-stop, gushing flow of disinformation and gossip. For more examples:

  • Kelly defended an anti-Islam filmmaker as a “patsy” of the Obama administration.
  • Kelly asserted that Americans have “gotta get a little squeamish” about the prospect of being killed by drones.
  • Kelly told her colleague Bill O’Reilly that pepper spray used against student protesters was just “a food product, essentially.”
  • Kelly moderated a discussion that was based on a series of “Fox Facts” that were cribbed directly from a Republican National Committee press release.
  • Kelly featured a disreputable reporter with a history of violence (who was later arrested for sexually assaulting a four year old girl) in her frequent attacks on the funders of the Islamic Center that Fox derisively referred to as the “Ground Zero Mosque.”
  • Kelly misrepresented the results of a Fox News Opinion Dynamics poll to argue that Democrats are defying the will of the people.
  • Kelly helped to cover up the extra-marital affair of GOP senator John Ensign and failed to disclose her personal involvement in the story.

It’s easy to see why Fox would want to advance Kelly to their primetime lineup. The musty presences of Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, and Greta Van Susteren could surely use an injection of new blood. The problem is that one of them will have to be booted from their perch. The most obvious loser would be Van Susteren, whose show is the weakest performer of the lot. However, Hannity’s position is hardly safe considering that he is despised by most of his colleagues. Even O’Reilly cannot be dismissed since he has floated suggestions that he might be ready to retire.

So we will have to wait until Fox announces their new schedule to see who comes up short. But in the end it will make no difference in the content that Fox offers. It will continue to be rabidly right-wing, with a clearly denoted bias for Republican Party dogma. Kelly’s entry into the club will not change that. In fact, it will congeal the conservative hackery into a younger, more alluring package. But the brain-dead zombies who watch Fox won’t have to worry a bit about whether they will continue to get a daily dose of propaganda devoid of those pesky and annoying facts that make understanding current events so difficult. For them, Kelly will be a comforting and reassuring breath of fresh lies.

[Update: 7/10/2003] There is still no word on where Kelly will land in primetime, but one of the replacements for her daytime gig will be Fox & Friends co-host Gretchen Carlson, whose experience as a former Miss America certainly prepared her for a role as a Fox News anchor. Media Matters has prepared an exhaustive look back at Carlson’s credentials.

Fox News CEO Roger Ailes Honored By Ultra-Rightist Bradley Foundation

Roger AilesConfirming what everyone with a pulse already knows, Roger Ailes, the CEO of Fox News, is a revered figure in the realm of wealthy, right-wing, evangelical, political manipulators. The latest evidence is the tribute to Ailes from the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, an organization that rivals the Koch brothers for their advocacy of extremist conservative issues. Huffington Post reports that…

“Over the past decade, the Wisconsin-based Bradley Foundation has given away more than $400 million to fund conservative causes, including school voucher campaigns, anti-union ‘right to work’ laws, pro-marriage initiatives, global warming denial groups and efforts to combat voter fraud.”

The Bradley has also been one of the biggest funders of AstroTurf Tea Party groups like FreedomWorks and Americans for Prosperity, as well as the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a secretive assembly of corporations and politicians who draft custom legislation to enrich themselves.

In his acceptance speech, Ailes spewed typically jingoistic rhetoric that reeked of American supremacism. His words betray a repulsive bigotry that seeps into the reporting on Fox News every day.

Ailes: “We have allowed ourselves to be manipulated by others, many who of whom want to impose their culture and laws under the manufactured utopian idea that all cultures are equal and most are better than America’s.”

Ailes doesn’t say who the “others” are who have been manipulating us. However, his use of the term is just the sort of divisive alarmism that bigots generally employ. Ailes also doesn’t bother to describe what the American culture is. Considering that the United States has grown out of a wildly diverse population of immigrants, it would be difficult to define a specific set of cultural elements that compose an American identity, unless it is one of wild diversity. In which case, it is the imposition of other cultures that has specifically shaped what is unique about us.

Nevertheless, Ailes goes on to state that…

“Traditional American culture influenced me greatly as I created the Fox News Channel for Rupert Murdoch. We knew that a fair and balanced news channel could succeed, as long as no views were rejected and conservative views were allowed to be heard.”

It’s interesting that he claims to reject no views, but only stipulates that conservative views be heard. That subtle prejudice is affirmed in the following paragraph where Ailes praises his network for reporting stories that others do not. He cites as examples the Dr. Gosnell story, the trumped up Benghazi hysteria, and the IRS/Tea Party affair – all conservative leaning news items. And with regard to the IRS, Ailes ventures off into conspiracy theory lunacy by advancing nutty allegations about the hiring of some 16,000 armed IRS agents enforcing ObamaCare (when is he going to give Alex Jones a show on Fox?).

As if to tie up his speech with a demonstration of the ignorance and shallow thinking that is so rampant on Fox News, Ailes makes the absurd (and factually erroneous) statement that…

“You know how I know this is a great country? Because everybody is trying to get in, and nobody is trying to get out.”

First of all, it is ridiculous to try to establish America’s greatness by what those on the outside think. There are at least as many foreigners who hate, or disapprove of, America, as admire it. What’s more, there are millions of people who want to get out of America. Three million leave every year. As for the people trying to get in, they are not doing so because America is great. They are coming because America is rich. Contrary to the worshipers of wealth with whom Ailes associates, that is not the same thing.

It is entirely appropriate that Ailes would receive this tribute from an organization that celebrates Randian-style greed and selfishness. And his acceptance speech perfectly illustrates his devotion to that philosophy. It’s just too bad that the $250,000 award is going to someone who is already a multimillionaire, and whose life has been dedicated to hiring other rich people to tell middle-class people to blame the poor for all of their problems.

Breitbart Execs Furiously Fluffing Fox News And Roger Ailes

Breitbart News has suffered a dramatic decline in the “quality” (if you can call it that) of their yellow journalism since the sudden demise of their guiding blight, Andrew Breitbart. They embarrassed themselves by falling for a hoax from the same satirical site they previously blasted the Washington Post for believing. They published a “scoop” claiming that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel took donations from a group that, as it turns out, didn’t exist. Their practice of “vetting” President Obama yielded dud after dud. And their attempt to cinematically canonize their namesake bellyflopped at the box office. The magnitude of their collapse is almost too painful to watch.

Consequently, they seem to have grabbed a life line from Fox News to prevent any further shrinkage. Their web site now features a section where they post headlines from their “partners,” but the only partner listed is Fox News. They have posted adoring homages to Fox personalities like Kirsten Powers who pretend to be liberals while bashing everything to the left of Attila the Hun. And for their sycophancy, they now get regular promotions of their articles on Fox News.

Breitbart - Fox News
Have you got your copy of “Fox Nation vs. Reality” yet?

But this week revealed the most blatant Fox fluffing yet between the two conservative lie factories. On June 5, Breitbart published an article defending Fox News CEO Roger Ailes from disclosures contained in a new book by reporter Jonathan Alter: The Center Holds: Obama and His Enemies. For some reason it took the the three biggest cheeses at Breitbart News to compose this syrupy ode to Ailes: Stephen Bannon, Executive Chairman; Larry Solov, President; and Alexander Marlow, Managing Editor. And just last week the same three stooges penned a fawning tribute to Ailes titled “The Ailes Manifesto: America Rallies Around Roger Ailes and Fox News.” Of course, America did no such thing, but the Breitbart executive sweets sure exposed their deep infatuation.

This week, Breitbart’s sensationalistic headline called Alter an “MSM Tool in the War Against Roger Ailes and Fox News,” and dismissed him for being employed by a news enterprise owned by a partisan billionaire (Michael Bloomberg). Amazingly, the BreitBrats displayed no sense of irony considering they themselves are busy licking the boots of their own partisan billionaire (Rupert Murdoch).

After several paragraphs of self-righteous and predictable carping over their delusional perception of the media as hopelessly liberal, the BreitBrats think they have nailed Alter with this assertion: “Breitbart News did some checking, and according to authoritative Fox and News Corporation sources, Ailes never talked to Alter for this book.” Well, they didn’t have to check with Fox for that because Alter never claimed to have talked to Ailes for the book. Then, after that criticism that failed to cite any Fox Newser by name, the BreitBrats complained that Alter failed to cite “any inside Fox or News Corp. sources” by name.” Then they followed that up with another quote from “one Fox source.” In fact, the rebuttal to nearly every criticism the BreitBrats made of Alter’s book was based on either an unnamed source, or had no attribution at all. There were thirteen itemized passages from Alter’s book with which Breitbart took exception. They were all summarily dismissed with ambiguous notations like…

  • “…declared a high-placed figure…”
  • “…security sources at Fox…”
  • “…according to a longtime hand at News Corp…”
  • “…According to our reporting…”
  • “…Says a News Corp. building source…”
  • “…according to Fox sources…”
  • “…Sources tell Fox that…”

So after castigating Alter for deigning to employ unnamed sources, the BreitBrats rely almost entirely on unnamed sources for their rebuttal. But even worse, they tally up the results of their own missive and report that six of Alter’s thirteen allegations were false. That means, of course, that 7 were true or partly true.

Someone may need to inform the BreitBrats that if you’re trying to refute a list of assertions in a critical book, you are not making much headway if a majority of them, by your own reckoning, are true. And that doesn’t even take into account the likelihood that the ones Breitbart tagged as false may still be true, despite their objections. After all, as Alter said in response to an article in Politico where Ailes rebuffed his book, “The question is, do you believe me or Roger Ailes?”

Setting aside for the moment that Ailes is a professional liar, for the BreitBrats the answer to alter’s question is obvious. They believe their corrupt and corpulent sweetheart, Roger Ailes. And they would follow him anywhere, as long as he continues to plug their pitiful blog. Romantic, aint it?

Fox News Breaks Out Nazi Smear To Attack Obama’s UN Pick

This didn’t take long. Just a few hours after President Obama announced his selection of Samantha Power to succeed Susan Rice as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Fox News has already hauled out the Nazi references that they just can’t seem to hold in.

Fox News
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As comedian Lewis Black once said of Glenn Beck, another Nazi talk junkie, they have Nazi Tourettes Syndrome – a malady that manifests itself with the uncontrollable compulsion to shout “Nazi” at everyone associated with Obama or any other Democrat or liberal. And shortly after the President’s morning announcement Fox had another seizure:

“The former White House adviser and longtime Obama friend nominated Wednesday as the next U.S. ambassador to the United Nations has a history of controversial comments that could haunt her in confirmation — including likening U.S. foreign policies to those of the Nazis.”

That was the very first paragraph of the Fox News article about Power’s appointment. There was no introductory information, no biography, nothing setting up the circumstances of her nomination. Fox went straight to the Nazi talk so as not to waste any time disparaging Power or confusing people with her exemplary resume.

Of course, Fox’s allegation is entirely false. It is pure fiction that they never even bother to support with any facts. At no time does Fox cite a U.S. foreign policy that Power allegedly likened to those of the Nazis. Fox doesn’t even offer some vague reference that they attribute to Power that might be misconstrued as likening U.S. policies in general to Nazi policies. This is a smear invented wholly in the diseased mind of Fox News.

The sole, and very tenuous, link that Fox cites is from a magazine article Power wrote in 2003, where she mentioned the famous incident in 1970 when then-German Chancellor Willy Brandt knelt at the monument to the victims of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising who were slaughtered by Nazi troops. In her article Power described the moment as expressing the remorse of contemporary Germans who “do not endorse the sins of their predecessors.” She further wrote that “his gesture was gratifying to World War II survivors, but it was also ennobling and cathartic for Germany.” Power was merely relating a very positive historical precedent when the Germany of 1970 affirmed its sorrow for the atrocities committed a quarter of a century prior.

That is the source for Fox’s repulsive attack on Power. And you can be certain that having introduced this insult, Fox and a bevy of right-wing slanderers will attempt to spread it throughout the conservative mediasphere. It matters not to them that there is no truth to it. The only thing that matters is that they have a rhetorical club with which to beat their enemies.

It also doesn’t matter that Power is an eminently qualified and capable nominee to represent the U.S. at the U.N. She is a Harvard law graduate, a Pulitzer Prize winner, and a fierce defender of human rights. She also has the honor of being called the “most dangerous woman in America” by Glenn Beck. That charge was one Beck repeated frequently when he was still on Fox News. Like much of his conspiracy-related dementia, it is difficult to unravel. But it had something to do with her being married to a long-time Beck foe, Cass Sunstein, as well as her support for a U.N. policy against genocide known as “Responsibility to Protect.” I wrote about this back in 2011:

The thrust of Beck’s squabbling is his contention that Power is the source of the administration’s policy in Libya. In his pseudo-professorial style Beck mis-educates his gullible viewers as to the roots of the “Responsibility to Protect” (R2P) initiative endorsed by the United Nations. R2P sprung from the post-WWII determination that the community of nations are morally obligated to act in opposition to genocide, crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing, and war crimes.

In short, Beck falsely asserts that the UN got the idea from George Soros who got it from Power’s book, “A Problem from Hell.” The only flaw in that theory is that Power’s book (which, by the way, won the Pulitzer Prize) came out the year following the publication of a UN commissioned report on the subject, so it could not possibly have been the inspiration for it. And the UN’s report was based on the 1948 “Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide,” when Soros was a poor, eighteen year old Holocaust refugee and student in London, and well before Power was even born. Also notable is the fact that R2P was adopted when John Bolton was the ambassador to the UN and both Israel and the Bush administration supported it.

The fact that Fox was able to manufacture a phony Nazi smear so rapidly is evidence of how seriously disturbed they are. Only a sick mind(s) could find so many paranoid examples of shadowy enemies lurking virtually everywhere. And as I have noted before, the Nazi talk on Fox News starts at the top with Roger Ailes. It is clearly a critical part of their business model. And despite having received numerous condemnations from Jewish organizations and other groups that fight anti-Semitism, Fox persists with their disgraceful behavior.

Roger Ailes’ Limp Dictum: Keep Flinging Scandals Until Something Sticks

Last week has been described by many in the press as the worst week yet for the Obama presidency. It was a week that saw purported scandals hyped furiously by Fox News and other right-wing media. They almost cheerfully segued from Benghazi to the IRS to the Associated Press, and then looped back for more of the same.

Most of the reports were rife with falsehoods and errors. Most striking was the story aired by ABC’s Jonathan Karl who blatantly lied about his “exclusive” access to internal administration emails but, as it turned out, he not only did not have any emails, he unethically regurgitated false and damaging misrepresentations fed to him by Republicans in congress. And while he issued a vague note of regret for the phony attributions, he has yet to admit that his sources were partisans with an axe to grind. [NOTE: David Shuster appeared on CNN's Reliable Sources this morning and smacked down GOP apologist Jennifer Rubin in grand fashion on this subject. Video below].

Ever since these stories emerged, Republicans have been spinning with feverish glee in the expectation that they might bring down this president that they hate with such vicious intensity. And as an added bonus, refocusing attention on manufactured melodramas allows them to avoid doing any actual work for the people they supposedly represent. The GOP House has voted 38 times to repeal ObamaCare, but not once for a jobs bill.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the witch hunt. Obama’s approval rating has risen 6 points since March in a new CNN poll. And majorities say that they believe Obama’s statements about Benghazi and the IRS. So despite the aggravated bluster of the right, Obama’s fortunes have been faring well.

So how does Fox News react to a scenario wherein they have flung virtually all of the feces they could gather and none if it sticks to their target? Being Fox News they simply get dirtier and more insane as their desperation builds.

Ailes Limp Dictum

Each of the headlines in these stories were built from scratch to disparage the President. And each has not even a smidgen of truth.

The item asserting that Obama “Admits He’s A Socialist,” was wrenched from an article in the New York Times where the author offered his opinion that Obama longed to “go Bulworth.” That was a reference to the Warren Beatty movie where he played a senator who abandoned the pretenses of politicking and went out to say what he really thought, including some positive remarks about socialism. However, the author of the Times article never mentioned the socialism part of the story. He only meant to refer to the straight-talk that Beatty embraced. And more importantly, Obama never mentioned any of it. It was all the musings of the Times author. So there was no “admission” by Obama by any stretch of the imagination.

In the article from the Wall Street Journal, Kimberly Strassel presents her theory that Obama was secretly signalling to people way down the ladder from the White House, his desire that they target conservative non-profits seeking tax-exempt status. The method he used was to say things that he believed. How insidious. Strassel’s idiotic theory would mean that anything any public figure says is evidence of complicity if some other people he’s never met do something illegal or unethical connected to that opinion. For instance, George W. Bush would be guilty of homicide because he publicly stated his opinion that abortion is murder and then George Tiller, a doctor who provides abortions, was fatally shot at his church. See how easy that was?

In the other two headlines Fox simply plucked the word “irrelevant” out of comments made by White House Senior Adviser Dan Pfeiffer without providing any context. In the first one Pfeiffer was asked about whether any laws were broken in the IRS affair. His answer merely reflected the fact that he was not a lawyer, but that regardless of whether laws were broken, the behavior was inexcusable. He was not saying that “the law” was irrelevant, but that it wasn’t relevant to the determination that what happened was wrong even if not unlawful.

Finally, Pfeiffer’s remarks about the relevance of Obama’s whereabouts during the Benghazi attack came in the course of Fox News Sunday anchor Chris Wallace repeatedly asking him where Obama was that night. Wallace seemed obsessed with which particular rooms in the White House the President might have visited. Eventually Pfeiffer responded by bluntly saying “I don’t remember what room the president was in on that night. That’s a largely irrelevant fact.” Which is unarguably true. Wallace was wandering down some weird and delusional path that had no bearing on anything. But Fox spun Pfeiffer’s response to suggest that it meant something broader with regard to Obama’s overall attention to the unfolding crisis.

This is the kind of nuttiness that ensues when liars become increasingly desperate as they see their lies falling flat. They get more and more surreal as they strain to have an effect. And when the effect turns out to be the opposite of what they hoped (i.e. Obama’s approval rising), they keep walking down that dead-end path, accelerating their pace, until it leads to a cliff. In the next few days and weeks we will see if Fox and the GOP are crazy enough to keep walking right over the edge. This should be fun.

And now for something completely different: Shuster Mauls Rubin…

Fox News’ Love/Hate Relationship With Jon Stewart

If there is one thing that is undeniable about the the editors at Fox News, it’s that they are devoted to maintaining narratives that unleash persistent and blistering attacks on liberals and Democrats. It is their whole reason for living and their greatest source of joy. However, every now and then there is an event or a person that gums up the works and causes them to stutter furiously as they try to figure out what their opinion is.

Jon Stewart of the Daily Show is such a person. Under ordinary circumstance, Fox resides happily in their characterization of Stewart as an unrepentant, socialist, disciple of Joseph Goebbels. Bill O’Reilly has called him “a key component of left-wing television.” Last Week Eric Bolling introduced a segment saying “Jon Stewart and his team of liberal writers deliver this piece of shi…satire the other night.” Over at Fox Nation’s Lie-Fest they posted a ludicrous report about an Obama donor funding a movie he is set to direct (In fact, the producer also donated to Romney).

Fox Nation

Now Fox is giddily heralding the recent episodes of The Daily Show where Stewart has been criticizing President Obama for the the variety of pseudo-scandals that the right is currently peddling. Fox couldn’t be more tickled by what they now consider to be insightful satire, but which they usually regard as unfunny carping. The thing about this is, Fox is oblivious to the reality that Stewart frequently mocks Obama and other Democrats. And what makes Fox’s ignorance of this fact all the more peculiar is that they themselves report every slap that Stewart takes at the left. For instance, these are just from this year alone, starting with today’s posting:

  • Jon Stewart Continues Piling on Scandal-Plagued Obama: He’s Either Nixon or Mr. Magoo
  • Stewart Tears Apart Obama: You Can’t Keep Saying You Found Out About News At the Same Time As Us!
  • Jon Stewart Destroys Obama Over IRS Scandal
  • Jon Stewart Goes Hog Wild on CNN
  • Stewart Eviscerates Obama for Withholding Drone Memos
  • Jon Stewart Tears Up Congress for Quietly Scaling Back Insider Trading Law
  • Stewart Destroys Former Obama Spox Robert Gibbs
  • Jon Stewart Tears Apart CNN
  • Jon Stewart Grills Hypocrite Al Gore
  • Jon Stewart’s F-Bomb Tirade Against Obama
  • Stewart Rips Obama SOTU: ‘Who’s Running This Sh*thole?!’
  • Jon Stewart Tears Into Obama’s ‘Attractive’ AG Comment
  • Jon Stewart Grills Susan Rice
  • Jon Stewart Tears Into Obama Hypocrisy
  • Jon Stewart Destroys Media Over Inauguration Coverage
  • Jon Stewart Mocks ‘All-White’ Obama Cabinet Controversy

Remember this whenever you hear some jerkwad on Fox railing about what a commie subversive Stewart is. And by jerkwad we can include Roger Ailes the CEO of Fox News who said about Stewart

“He hates conservative views. He hates conservative thoughts. He hates conservative verbiage. He hates conservatives. He’s crazy. [...] He makes a living by attacking conservatives and stirring up a liberal base against it.”

Yeah, that’s why Stewart did all those critical bits aimed at liberals. Does Ailes watch his own network?

Pope Emeritus Benedict Joins Fox News: ‘Pope Culture’ To Debut In The Fall

For the first time in 600 years there is a living former Pope. However, Pope Emeritus Benedict does not plan to retire quietly to the Vatican’s back porch and tend to gardening and meditation. He has other plans and they are leaking out along with a wisp of white smoke from the chimney atop 1211 Avenue of the Americas.

Fox News insiders report that a deal has been reached to bring Benedict to the Fox News family with a new program to air on Sunday mornings. Tentatively titled “Pope Culture,” sources say that it will premiere this fall and is slated to be a forum for many of the values issues that dominate the dialogue in the media and at dinner tables across America.

Pope Culture

Discussions to draft the papal free agent began shortly after the selection of Pope Francis, Benedict’s successor. Those meetings were helped along by some influential Vatican insiders with media connections. Greg Burke, the current Senior Communications Adviser in the Vatican’s Secretariat of State, was previously the Fox News correspondent covering the Vatican, a position he held for ten years. Burke, a member of the ultra-conservative Catholic prelate Opus Dei, left Fox in the summer of 2012 to head up the Vatican’s PR efforts to quell the uproar over a series of embarrassing scandals.

Burke was instrumental in introducing Benedict to Fox CEO Roger Ailes who was immediately intrigued by the prospect of signing a popular figure in the world of religion with international name recognition. Ailes was said to be looking for a new hot property to bolster a stale line-up that was recently roiled by controversy and incompetence. This year he had to jettison or bench familiar Fox faces like Sarah Palin, Karl Rove, and Dick Morris, due to their humiliating failures as commentators and analysts. Since God has anointed Benedict as infallible, Ailes can relax and won’t have to worry about the sort of mistakes that caused his network to suffer historic declines in ratings and credibility.

Sources inside Fox, who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak about the matter, said that contract negotiations included some unique concessions. The show would not be modeled after the other Sunday news programs that feature sometimes raucous debates. Benedict insisted that his program be a more deliberative hour interspersed with inspirational segments and profiles of charitable organizations and volunteer opportunities. The theme of promoting “service” was said to have been brought up repeatedly by Benedict’s representatives. They briefly encountered some resistance at Fox by hardliners who regard such talk as coddling freeloaders who refuse to accept personal responsibility. In the end, Benedict prevailed by agreeing that the type of service that he advocated was of the private variety and not that provided by bloated government agencies. That was enough to win over the Fox holdouts.

Benedict further requested and received assurances that he would have editorial control and would not be subject to either fairness or balance with regard to his topics or guests, a demand Ailes had no problem with since he never took that seriously anyway. There is also a provision for Fox to build a TV studio at Benedict’s residence which, sources say, will be accomplished on the cheap by repossessing the one they built for Sarah Palin at her home in Wasilla, Alaska. As of this writing there is no confirmation of rumors regarding the brown M&Ms.

When Benedict arrives at Fox in the fall he will be joining a roster already heavily weighted with Roman-Catholics, including: Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, Megyn Kelly, Bret Baier, Bill Hemmer, Brian Kilmeade, Andrew Napolitano, Jeanine Pirro, Laura Ingraham, Dennis Kucinich, and the in-house priest, Father Jonathan Morris. Rupert Murdoch, the CEO of Fox News parent News Corp was himself inducted into the “Knights of the Order of Saint Gregory the Great” by Pope John Paul II.

Pray for Fox NewsSo Benedict ought to feel right at home in the midst of a College of (Media) Cardinals. His prior experience as spokesman for a vast assembly of true believers is the ideal preparation for a career as a Fox minister. Fox viewers exhibit a fierce loyalty that is consistent with the behavior of religious devotees and cults. They voluntarily separate themselves from the heresy of other news sources that might infect their pious souls. They make a point of disassociating with apostates and blasphemers who might divert them from the true path. Cult leaders demand strict obedience, and that is precisely what Fox News gets from their disciples. They even have an adjunct site, Fox Nation [see Fox Nation vs. Reality], that implores its adherents to “Join Us” with the promise that they will never be alone – a promise that is familiar to churchgoers.

Fox Nation - Join

The pairing of Fox and Benedict appears to be almost preordained. They have striking similarities in their principles and agendas. And at the root of their shared mission is the fact that they are both trying to sell stories on faith to ill-informed people who are motivated by fear. This relationship has the potential to be beneficial for everyone involved and is being greeted with unanimous approval from the Fox hierarchy. Oh Happy Day.

A Panicky Roger Ailes Unleashes The Fox News Hounds

Roger AilesFox News CEO Roger Ailes is revealing the creeping dread he harbors at the prospect of being exposed in a new biography that will be released in a few weeks. As a result of his manic paranoia he has assembled his Flunky Brigade to mount a large-scale offensive meant to preemptively discredit the forthcoming book and its author, Gabriel Sherman.

Dylan Byers at Politico wrote about this blitzkrieg earlier this month in an article that detailed how Sherman has already been targeted by Ailes’ defenders on the Fox News payroll. They have assailed him as a “phony journalist,” a “stalker,” a “harasser,” and when all else fails, as “a [George] Soros puppet.” This is the same battle plan that Ailes executed when he was faced with the release of a damning portrait of Fox News by Media Matters founder David Brock. Ailes dispatched his defenders to slanderously malign Brock as a mentally unstable, drug abusing, megalomaniac. It’s the Ailes way.

Now another Ailes puppet, Pat Caddell, has been recruited into the fray with an utterly daft hit piece in the form of an editorial on FoxNews.com. Caddell begins his protracted rant as a self-glorifying account of how he was the genius behind a thirty year old, moth-eaten speech by Jimmy Carter. But that was just the set up on a labyrinthine journey to disparage Sherman’s pending biography of Ailes, about which Caddell said with more than hint of hyperbole, “the mere publication of his book will go beyond controversy. Its publication would, in and of itself, be a scandal.” However, nothing in Caddell’s feverish disgorging ever explained what would be so scandalous about it. The entire article reads like a reject from the notoriously disreputable Fox Nation, but even that Fox annex wouldn’t re-post this tripe.

Try to follow along as Caddell weaves a nearly incoherent tale of intrigue. The pretext for his ire was an alleged claim of credit for the Carter speech by Gordon Stewart, who just happened to be one of Carter’s speechwriters. Caddel insists, however, that Stewart had little to do with the speech, but Caddell kept that opinion to himself for several years. His impetus for speaking out years later was a rather childish response to an unrelated article by Stewart wherein he negatively reviewed a friendly biography of Ailes that was written by Ailes’ personally selected lackey Zev Chafets for the purpose of beating Sherman’s book to market. Caddell wrote “When I saw that Stewart had trashed author Chafets for picayune inaccuracies in his Ailes book, I said to myself, ‘Enough is enough. If Stewart is going to dump on Chafets for tiny mistakes, then I should let everyone know that Stewart has been telling a whopper for years.’”

In other words. because Caddell didn’t like Stewart’s review of the sycophantic bio that Ailes himself had solicited, Caddell would dredge up an old, unrelated dispute to lash out at Stewart. At this point you may wonder what any of this has to do with Gabriel Sherman. Well, Caddell drags him into this with this introduction: “There’s a person named Gabriel Sherman, a writer for New York magazine and a fellow at the New America Foundation–a left-of-center think-tank to which George Soros and others in the Soros family have contributed.” The Soros affiliation was thrown in because Caddell knows that the Fox audience has a knee jerk gag response to the name. What Caddell fails to note is that his Fox colleague, conservative pundit Jim Pinkerton, was also a New America Foundation fellow.

Are you still following? Caddell’s problem with Sherman is that while conducting research on Caddell’s article attacking Stewart, Sherman asked Caddell to document his assertion that Stewart had improperly claimed credit for the Carter speech. Caddell had written that “Four years ago, in both print and in interviews, Stewart claimed to be the author of the “crisis of confidence” speech.” Sherman then had the audacity to ask Caddell to direct him to the articles and/or interviews that Caddell had referenced. This resulted in Caddell having a conniption fit and declaring that Sherman “can’t or won’t find something that is plainly a part of the public record, and then he writes me a faux-friendly e-mail asking me to help him.”

That’s a bit of an over-reaction, it would seem. The first thing an experienced journalist would do to verify a quote would be to ask the person quoted for his sources. Why spend untold hours digging up years-old documents if the person who cited them could simply send you a link? But Caddell thinks that was an outrageous request and indicative of poor research skills. On the basis of that, Caddell extrapolates that Sherman is incompetent and his book on Ailes, which Caddell has never seen, will be a hack job.

That’s a fairly thin basis for criticism. But if you think that’s bad, have look at the tantrum Caddell throws in his final paragraph:

“Frankly, Mr. Sherman, you are an embarrassment to the journalistic trade, and if your book is in the same vein, it will be an embarrassment to your publisher and a disservice to the reading public. Please take my advice: Grow up, get a life, and most of all, leave me alone. Got that?”

Seriously? Was Caddell’s emotional maturity stunted at the junior high level? That’s the most pathetically impotent threat I’ve ever seen in print. And the entire tirade was just an excuse to bash a book that he knows nothing about because the author asked him a simple and reasonable question. The lengths to which Caddell has gone, at the behest of his Fox master Roger Ailes, demonstrates just how worried they are about the revelations that Sherman’s book may contain. And it reveals them to be so desperate that they would resort to these ineffectual bullying tactics.

The question is, are they also so delusional that they believe that any of this will have anything other than a positive effect on Sherman and the reception for his book? If anything, it will increase anticipation all the more, which would be ironic because the Chafets book on Ailes was a thundering dud, that sold less than 3,000 copies its first week. That prompted Chafets to tell The New Republic that “Most people don’t care about Roger Ailes.” That’s a curious remark for an author to make about the subject of his latest book.

In the end, Ailes, Caddell, and Chafets may be adding to their own gnawing sense of envy by giving Sherman’s book a big PR boost that could help sales. Perhaps Sherman should send them a thank you note. Well, except for Caddell who wants to be left alone.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Roger Ailes Uses Fox News Personnel As His Personal Attack Dogs

Dylan Byers of Politico posted an article yesterday that dug into the literary battle between two competing biographies of Fox News CEO Roger Ailes. One of the bios is by an independent reporter, Gabriel Sherman, who has demonstrated his ability to break stories from within the Fox bubble. The other is by a hack, Zev Chafets, who previously penned a gushing homage to Rush Limbaugh and who has the blessing of Ailes – including access to the subject, his family, friends, and colleagues.

Roger Ailes

Byers noted that Sherman has already been targeted by Ailes’ defenders on the Fox News payroll. He has been assailed as a “phony journalist,” a “stalker,” a “harasser,” and when all else fails, as “a [George] Soros puppet.” [Sherman is presently a fellow of the New America Foundation to which Soros has donated a miniscule sum. Conservative and Fox News pundit Jim Pinkerton also has a fellowship]. Despite this full-court bad press assault, Byers is not convinced that there is any coordinated effort to malign Sherman. He writes…

“To date, no evidence has emerged that Ailes ordered his employees to stir up the attacks on Sherman — which have gone beyond the usual confines of professional critiques and into the realm of personal insult and innuendo.”

If Byers is looking for evidence, he might examine the track record at Fox when they decide that they are under fire from an ideological enemy. When David Brock of Media Matters was preparing the release of his book “The Fox Effect,” the Ailes team fired up a preemptive blitzkrieg of slander and character assassination. They labeled Brock everything from mentally unstable to a drug user to a self-hating megalomaniac. They also mounted a campaign to get Fox viewers to file complaints with the IRS to get Media Matters’ tax exemption as a charitable organization revoked. All of this because Brock had a book that was about to come out.

This is all consistent with the Ailes business plan. He sits atop an enterprise that engages in scorched earth assaults against perceived enemies, driven by his own well-known paranoia. So it is not particularly surprising that, after hearing about an unauthorized (and perhaps unfriendly) biography in the works, he would solicit his own biographer whom he could be certain would canonize him and then attempt to discredit the opposing author before any truth inadvertently slipped out.

Sherman recently certified his reporting skills, and the reliability of his sources within Fox, by exposing a couple of incidents that revealed some of the inner workings of the network. In one case he found that shortly after the massacre in Newtown, CT, Fox producers had been given instructions “not to talk about gun-control policy on air.” In the other case, just after the election results that Fox had so badly botched, Sherman discovered that Ailes had sent out orders “mandating that producers must get permission before booking [Karl] Rove or [Dick] Morris,” two of the more notoriously flawed Fox analysts.

Sherman’s book is expected to be released in a few months. If his prior reporting is any indication, it should be an interesting read. The same cannot be said for the book by Chafets, unless you happen to be partial to sycophantic hero-worship based on fantastical diversions from reality. But because of the timing, neither book is likely to record how Ailes unethically deploys his “news” staff to smack down independent reporting that he is afraid might be too honest and probing – especially when it is about himself. It is easy to predict that, as the publish date for Sherman’s book approaches, Sherman will become increasingly under attack by the Ailes machine. It may be a withering onslaught of defamation, but it will also be an affirmation that he is doing his job.

[Update] An excerpt of the Ailes-approved Chafets book was published in Vanity Fair. Aside from the expected adulatory tone, Chafets revealed how juvenile Ailes can be when criticizing those he dislikes. He called Newt Gingrich “a prick.” He said VP Joe Biden is “dumb as an ashtray.” He mocked CNN’s Soledad O’Brien as the anchor “named after a prison” (actually, she was named after the Virgin Mary). He went after his own son-in-law saying that he “needed to see a psychiatrist.” And he sunk to racist dog-whistling by calling President Obama “lazy.” Based on these excerpts, this is one book that should hit the bargain bins pretty fast.

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.