The End of Rush Limbaugh? His Radio Syndicator is on the Brink of Bankruptcy

The presidency of Donald Trump is running an obstacle course of speed bumps and potholes. He has failed to achieve anything of note during his first 100 days in office. And that’s according to his own published benchmarks. There is no repeal of ObamaCare, no defeat if ISIS, no tax reform, and no Mexican border wall. The only success he has had is breaking the record for the lowest popularity of any first-quarter president in history.

Rush Limbaugh

Along with Trump’s sagging fortunes, much of the right-wing establishment is similarly floundering. The Republican Party is worried about maintaining their majorities in Congress. And the GOP’s PR division, Fox News, recently lost its CEO (Roger Ailes) and its biggest star (Bill O’Reilly). Both were terminated after scandals involving sexual harassment.

With Trump still driving the public angst, the carnage is far from over. The talk radio empire of Rush Limbaugh is now said to teetering on collapse. Salon’s Matthew Sheffield is reporting that:

“The parent company of iHeartCommunications [formerly Clear Channel], which syndicates programs by conservative talk-show hosts Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, appears to be headed toward bankruptcy.

“In a statement filed last week with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the federal agency charged with regulating companies that offer investments to the public, iHeartCommunications’ parent company, iHeartMedia Inc., said that it had ‘substantial doubt’ that it would be in business by the middle of next year.”

Sheffield noted that the radio industry in general has been under pressure from other advertising platforms including new media. But the problems facing Limbaugh’s syndicator went deeper than that:

“The ad challenge is made worse for iHeartCommunications since many of its stations feature a conservative talk format whose audience is literally dying off. According to industry figures, the age of a talk show listener is about 67. Further complicating things for the company has been that its top host, Limbaugh, has immersed himself in several controversies in recent years, such as the time he called a liberal activist [Sandra Fluke] a ‘slut’ on the air.”

Indeed. Limbaugh’s repulsive and misogynistic insults cost him dearly. A leaked memo from his distributor, Premiere Networks, revealed that he lost more than 140 advertisers as a result of his rancid ranting. And the exodus didn’t end with Limbaugh. The same advertisers also requested that their ads be removed from other right-wing programs including Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck and Michael Savage.

Exacerbating these problems, Limbaugh has also lost favor with some of the top affiliates in the country. His show has been dropped from WABC in New York, WRKO in Boston and KFI in Los Angeles. In desperation, he switched to some weaker stations in those and other markets just to have a presence on air.

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

It remains to be seen whether iHeartCommunications will manage to stay afloat. But even if it does, they will have to make severe cuts in order to service their crushing debt. That means that Limbaugh, Hannity, et al, will either have to agree to renegotiate their contracts downward or say goodbye to their audience. They may still survive online, but they should ask Glenn Beck whether that’s a viable option. Since losing his Fox News megaphone he has been bleeding cash and his public awareness has shrunk to near irrelevance. So that’s good news all around. And maybe we should send Donald Trump a thank you note.

The Fox News ‘Blame Obama’ Fetish Is in Full Effect with Lame Accusations About Syria

The media is once again falling for the meme of the moment on Donald Trump rather than producing thoughtful analysis. Just two months ago they flocked to praise his “presidential” demeanor during a speech before a joint session of Congress. They characterized it as a profound shift in personality. Of course, the next day Trump proved them all wrong as he reverted to his standard childishness and bluster.

Obama Fox News

Now, in the wake of his missile strikes in Syria, much of the media is at it again. They portray this as evidence of Trump’s evolution into the job of president. But it’s just another knee-jerk reaction that ignores both facts and history. Donald Trump can surely be depended on to act brashly and without consideration tomorrow or the next day. and the worst offender, as usual, is Fox News.

The network that serves as Trump’s PR division has gone out of its way to blame President Obama for the problems in Syria. Rather than assigning blame to Bashir al-Assad, the brutal dictator who gasses his own people, Fox News points their bony fingers at Obama. Here are some examples of the well coordinated assault on our former president:

Bill O’Reilly: President Trump is going to have much different foreign policy than President Obama’s “strategy of retreat.”

Sean Hannity: “Instead of weakness, we now have strength. […] Timidity has been replaced by bold action.”

Charles Krauthammer: “There is a new sheriff in town. There was an absence for eight years. America is back.”

Ted Cruz: “The honest answer is there’s no good answer to Syria right now after eight years of Obama’s broken red lines and weakness.

The problem with all of these displays of Obama Derangement Syndrome is that they fail to represent reality. President Obama took a hard stand against Syria and produced some real, albeit temporary, results. The famous “red line” remarks were followed up by an agreement that removed hundreds of tons of chemical weapons from Syria. The fact that some may have remained, or were re-acquired four years later, doesn’t diminish the magnitude of that achievement.

What’s more, Obama also ordered retaliatory bombing in Syria. At the time, conservative pundits and politicians castigated him for it, despite his having obtained pre-approval from Congress. Obama delivered a message to the American people that Fox News et al have apparently forgotten:

Trump was among those who criticized Obama’s actions in Syria. In fact, Trump repeatedly bashed Obama and insisted that it would be a mistake to engage with Syria at all. Now Obama is being falsely criticized for having done nothing, even though that’s what his critics wanted him to do. It’s a twisted logic that only right-wing partisans can comprehend.

It should also not be forgotten that Trump presciently unveiled what may be the real reason for his Syrian aggression. In yet another swipe at Obama, Trump tweeted this:

For the record, Trump’s numbers are in a death spiral. In just three months he has managed to sink lower in approval than any president before him. Could it be that now he is just taking his won desperate advice?

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

Trump Blames Fox News For Wacky Wiretap Conspiracy Theory – And Fox Bites Back

In the brief time that Donald Trump has occupied the White House he has set records for uttering blatant falsehoods. However, none have gone as far over the line as his accusation that President Obama wiretapped his phones. No evidence of this alleged felony was provided by Trump or any agency of law enforcement. Even Republican leaders in Congress have made unequivocal statements denying the existence of any proof for Trump’s reckless charges. Included in that group: David Nunes, the GOP chairman of the Intelligence Committee, and Paul Ryan, Speaker of the House.

Fox News Donald Trump

Consequently, without any hesitation or shame, Trump’s press secretary, Sean Spicer (aka Fibby Spice), launched a wild-eyed rant insisting that Trump was right. At Thursday’s press briefing he recited a litany of alleged “proof,” that utterly failed to back him up. And the references that weren’t irrelevant were mostly just the ramblings of partisan hacks like Sean Hannity. For some reason Trump relies more on Fox News and Alex Jones than the intelligence agencies that work for him.

The issue came up again Friday at a joint press conference with Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Specifically, the allegation floated by Spicer that Obama conspired with British intelligence to conduct his wiretapping adventure. This crackpot theory was introduced by Judge Andrew Napolitano of Fox News. The British authorities vehemently denied this, calling it “ridiculous.” But Trump refused to retreat, instead choosing to direct the blame to his pals at Fox News (video below):

TRUMP: “We said nothing. All we did was quote a certain very talented legal mind who was the one responsible for saying that on television. I didn’t make an opinion on it. That was a statement made by a very talented lawyer on Fox. So you shouldn’t be talking to me. You should be talking to Fox.”

First of all, quoting someone is not saying nothing. Your press secretary used the quote to support your preposterous accusations of imaginary wiretaps. You cannot use that as validation and then claim not have said anything. As for “talking to Fox,” apparently someone took him up that. Fox’s Shepard Smith addressed the controversy and sharply repudiated Trump’s position:

SHEPARD SMITH: “Fox News cannot confirm Judge Napolitano’s commentary. Fox News knows of no evidence of any kind that the now-President of the United States was surveilled at any time, in any way. Full stop.”

So according to Fox News Trump’s phony wiretapping fantasy has zero credibility. Also according to Fox News, their senior judicial analyst, Napolitano, has credibility issues of his own. And yet, Fox continues to serve as Trump’s Ministry of Propaganda. When they aren’t shielding him from criticism they’re praising him as the second coming of St. Reagan. It appears that Trump is determined to eventually prove his campaign boast that he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and not lose any support. And when he does, Fox News will report that a deranged leftist subversive ran in front of Trump’s bullet.

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

Trump Blaming Fox News:

Shepard Smith’s response:

MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Just Beat Fox News and Every Other Primetime Program On TV

For several weeks now Rachel Maddow’s MSNBC program has been picking up steam. Last Monday she rose into the ratings top ten in her time period. And that momentum continued for the rest of the week. As a result, she just snagged a victory over every primetime program for the week of March 6-10.

Rachel Maddow Donald Trump

The Hollywood Reporter noted the achievement saying that:

“Rachel Maddow, MSNBC’s star player, is enjoying one hell of a ratings run right now.

“The cable news network’s 9 o’clock host outrated every other primetime show during the week of March 6. Not only did that make her show No. 1 among adults 25-54 in her time slot with an average 624,000 viewers, she even beat cable news’ perennial victor — Fox News Channel’s Bill O’Reilly.”

A showing this strong is evidence of a titanic shift in the television audience. Bill O’Reilly has been the cable news king of the hill fairly consistently for years. He hasn’t seen any real competition since Keith Olbermann. In her time period, Maddow’s weekly average crushed her direct competition, Fox’s newest primetime host Tucker Carlson. And her victory included both total audience and the key advertising demographic of viewers 25-54. The smug superiority of Carlson was quickly embraced by Fox’s viewers. However, his bewildered and annoyed shtick seems to be wearing thin.

Maddow’s rise has occurred simultaneously with Donald Trump’s collapse. Trump’s approval ratings started in the cellar with the lowest numbers ever recorded for a new president. And they have just gone down from there. This week alone he sunk five points to a pitiful 39 percent.

Consequently, Fox News is pulling out all the stops to prop up their propaganda. Sean Hannity blasted Maddow on Monday for daring to report on Trump’s ties to Vladimir Putin and Russia. Ordinarily Hannity wouldn’t bother to speak her name aloud. But now he is featuring her in his rants. First he complained that she didn’t have “a shred of evidence” tying Trump to Putin. That’s true. She doesn’t have a shred, she has truck load. Then Hannity asked the most blitheringly ironic question ever: “Do these people have any intellectual honesty?” No comment on that is necessary.

As for Carlson, he just announced that he will be interviewing Trump on Wednesday. Given Trump’s toxic presence, that might not be a great programming move. Fox’s glassy-eyed loyalists will love it, but the broader TV audience will likely stay away. What could they possibly learn from television’s most sycophantic Trump fluffer spending an hour with his idol?

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

That’s a problem that Fox News is going to have to contend with for the foreseeable future. Their star attraction is viewed by most Americans as an ignorant bigot who is intent on taking away their healthcare. During the campaign Trump was still a novelty and many people watched just to see if he would burst a blood vessel in his neck or slap an immigrant child. But the public knows Trump now and they’ve lost interest in his juvenile antics. And the more he is paraded out on Fox News, the better it will be for Maddow and MSNBC. Maybe CNN should start paying attention.

Trump-Fluffer Hannity Implies CIA Hacked Democrats and Blamed It on the Russians

The role of Fox News during the presidency of Donald Trump is essentially the same as Pravda’s in Russia. It is as close to state-run television news as we get in the United States. The network will almost always support Trump and defend him from any and all criticism. And the most fawning Trump flunky at Fox is, without a doubt, Sean Hannity.

Trump Hannity

During the campaign, Hannity hosted Trump on his program more than any other candidate. And Trump appeared on his show more than any other show on TV. Hannity even publicly endorsed Trump in the midst of the campaign. So no one should be surprised that he is still licking Trump’s Ferragamos. But this week he went even further. Hannity is now joining the President’s pro-Putin fan club and opposing America’s intelligence community.

Analysis of all available data about the hacking of Democrats has produced near unanimous agreement that Russia was the culprit. Seventeen separate intelligence agencies agree with that assessment. And the ever-growing number of connections between Trump and his inner circle are cause for concern. Unless, that is, if you’re Sean Hannity.

On his radio show last week Hannity floated an absurd and utterly unsupported allegation acquitting Putin’s gang of any wrongdoing. He asserted that the CIA “uses stolen malware to attribute cyberattacks to nations like Russia.” Hannity said that this was revealed in documents from WikiLeaks, but that isn’t true. It was merely part of a press release that WikiLeaks put out, but was not supported by the actual documents. Then Hannity continued this line of nonsense on his Fox News program (video below). His guest, Lt. Col Tony Shaffer (ret), said that it was the CIA that hacked the Democrats. Despite having said the very same thing himself on the radio earlier that day, Hannity pretended to be surprised. In the following exchange with Shaffer he wondered:

Hannity: You’re telling me this whole Russian story – that the media’s been running with for months and months and months – that it was our people that did it and they just put the fingerprints of the Russians on it?
Shaffer: That’s right. I don’t have proof of it, but I’m telling you this is what I’ve heard.

The notable part of this charade is that Shaffer openly admits that he has no proof. But that doesn’t stop Hannity from participating in spreading this crackpot conspiracy theory. In order to believe his ramblings you would have to dismiss the findings of the entire intelligence community. Plus, you would have to dismiss them in favor of unfounded opinions based on Russian denials. It hardly seems patriotic to side with a hostile foreign adversary over American national security professionals.

In addition, you’d have to ignore all of the connections already proven between the Russians and Trump’s “brain” trust. They include Paul Manafort, Carter Page, Michael Flynn, Jeff Sessions, Jared Kushner, J.D. Gordon, and Roger Stone. What are the odds that a single candidate – now president – would have so many associates tied to communications with our Russian foes? This can’t be written off as coincidence.

Nevertheless, Hannity struggles vainly to absolve Russia of any complicity with the hacking. Instead, he places the blame squarely on his fellow Americans. It’s unclear why Hannity thinks that’s a better scenario. His theory asserts that it was the CIA that hacked Democrats in order to sabotage Hillary Clinton’s campaign. He believes that Trump’s victory was assisted by rogue and treasonous spooks. And this is better how? At least he seems to be accepting that Trump is an illegitimate president who won as the result of unlawful interference. Except that in his blind haste to exonerate Putin, he doesn’t appear to know that he believes that.

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

YOU’RE FIRED: Trump Sacks U.S. Attorney Probing Fox News For Hiding Sexual Harassment Lawsuits

On Friday the White House announced that it was asking forty-six U.S. Attorneys to submit their resignations. They were further instructed to clear out their desks by the end of the day. Replacing staff at the Department of Justice is a routine part of most administration transitions. However, it is rarely done so ham-handedly without prior notice or opportunity to orient the replacements.

Preet Bharara Donald Trump

By acting so impetuously, Donald Trump is leaving numerous in-progress investigations without leadership or direction. They include cases involving terrorism, drug trafficking, civil rights abuses, and more. There is no reason to rush these lawyers out the door. Most are career attorneys who have served during both Democratic and Republican administrations.

One possible explanation for Trump’s hastiness could be something he saw the night before on Fox News. Sean Hannity demanded that anyone affiliated with the Obama administration be summarily dismissed ASAP. What he was advocating was nothing short of the purges conducted by old-school tyrannical regimes. Perhaps it’s a coincidence that Trump carried out the ideological cleansing the next day. But there is abundant evidence that Trump responds obediently to things he sees on Fox News.

Which makes the case of fired attorney Preet Bharara especially troubling. Bharara is the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. In that jurisdiction he has had responsibility for high profile prosecutions of organized crime, Wall Street corruption, and political malfeasance. He has a reputation for being thorough and non-partisan. He was even personally asked to remain by President-Elect Trump last November, which he agree to do.

What makes Bharara’s dismissal so controversial is that one of the cases he is currently investigating involves Fox News. Last month the New York Daily News reported that:

“The feds are conducting an ‘ongoing criminal investigation’ of Fox News Channel and whether Rupert Murdoch’s company hid from investors the payments it made to employees who alleged they were sexually harassed, an attorney alleged in court Wednesday.” […]

[Attorney Judd Burstein, representing former Fox News host Andrea Tantaros] “said Fox News’ payouts to female employees claiming sexual harassment are not disclosed in Fox’s Securities and Exchange Commission filings, which could be a violation of federal securities law.”

The ever-increasing number of former female Fox News staffers alleging sexual harassment is not just a moral atrocity. It also threatens to cost the network millions of dollars and loss of prestige. The current rash of scandals began with Gretchen Carlson and quickly spread to others including Andrea Tantaros, Juliet Huddy, and even Megyn Kelly. As such it’s pertinent to any analysis of the company’s fiscal health and they have a responsibility to inform investors. Fox News already lost its founder and CEO. Roger Ailes, as a result of the scandal.

To say the least, it is unseemly for Trump to shove Bharara out the door while he is working on such a sensitive case. Fox News is Trump’s most devoted media cheerleader, thus Trump has an incentive to shield them from legal jeopardy. And for this act of presidential protection to take place immediately after a plea from Hannity – Fox’s most adoring Trump fluffer – just compounds the inappropriateness.

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

Bharara, as a matter of principle, refused to cooperate with the Trump purge. CNN reported that he would not comply with the request for a resignation. In effect, he dared Trump to fire him. And given Trump’s penchant for petty vengeance, that is exactly what Trump did. This opens the door for a replacement who Trump is already considering. Marc Mukasey is a lawyer who counts among his clients Fox’s ex-CEO Roger Ailes. Were he to assume the position, it is unlikely that the case against Fox News would proceed. This is how Trump drains the swamp.

SRSLY? Rudy Giuliani Says Media-Hater Trump Will ‘Get Us Back To A Free Press’

Rudy Giuliani appeared on Sean Hannity’s Fox News program Friday in a successful attempt to certify his reputation as a mush-brained old coot. This pair of Donald Trump fluffers were in awe of The Donald’s performance at his press conference harangue on Wednesday. Watching Trump berate a CNN reporter for daring to ask a question struck Giuliani as respectful of a free press.

Rudy Giuliani

The exchange between Giuliani and Hannity revealed just how deranged the former mayor has become. His comments lauded Trump as a breath of fresh air and a champion of journalistic ethics. No, seriously. Take these actual excerpts for example:

Giuliani: “It is refreshing and it is very good for our democracy that we have a president that is trying to get us back to a free press.”

Unfortunately, most journalists would vehemently disagree with Giuliani’s worshipful remarks. In fact, the Committee to Protect Journalists called Trump “an unprecedented threat to the rights of journalists.” Their lengthy press release also included these criticisms:

“Since the beginning of his candidacy, Trump has insulted and vilified the press and has made his opposition to the media a centerpiece of his campaign. Trump has routinely labeled the press as ‘dishonest’ and ‘scum’ and singled out individual news organizations and journalists.

“He has mocked a disabled New York Times journalist and called an ABC News reporter a ‘sleaze’ in a press conference. He expelled Univision anchor Jorge Ramos from a campaign press conference because he asked an ‘impertinent’ question, and has publicly demeaned other journalists.”

In addition to that, the National Press Club put out a statement condemning Trump’s anti-press tactics as “unacceptable and dangerous to our democracy.” So the people most concerned about the welfare of journalists don’t regard Trump as either refreshing or good for democracy.

Giuliani: “[Trump] may actually reestablish journalistic ethics.”

Giuliani didn’t bother to elaborate on how Trump would do that. He must think that revoking the press credentials of reporters who don’t lavish him with praise advances ethical journalism. Among the news organizations Trump has muzzled are the Washington Post, BuzzFeed, Politico, Huffington Post, Daily Beast, and Univision.

Even worse, he said that CNN’s reporting about him was in some way similar to what the Nazis did. However, he never explained what the similarity was. It’s bad enough that he would trivialize the very real horrors that millions suffered. But he descends further into the unspeakably vile by claiming that he’s the victim.

Giuliani: “He’s an honest man. So they’re not gonna catch him in some kind of lie.”

This may be the best indication that Giuliani has totally lost his mind. Donald Trump is the most notoriously pathological liar that has ever run for president. He ranks at the bottom of PolitiFact’s scoring of all the presidential candidates for the 2016 cycle. See for yourself with this collection of fully documented lies: The Trump Bullshitopedia.

Giuliani was just named by Trump to lead his cybersecurity team, a position for which he is woefully unqualified. But he is even less qualified as a spokesman for journalists or the best interests of a free press. Especially if he thinks that someone with as much contempt for the First Amendment as Trump has shown could ever have a positive influence on it.

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

Republicans In Congress Are TERRIFIED Of Trump And His ‘Horde Of Enforcers’

Donald Trump ran roughshod over his GOP opponents in the 2016 Republican primaries. It was a scorched Earth style campaign that left his foes, not just beaten, but humiliated. He didn’t merely challenge their policy positions or leadership skills, he used language meant to shame them. Fellow Republicans were viciously maligned as “Lyin’ Ted’ and “Little Marco.” Eventually Trump succeeded in capturing the nomination, but not without leaving bodies on the battlefield.

Trump/Bannon

Those same tactics are now being deployed against the Republicans in Congress. Many of them are saying privately that they are fearful of taking positions against Trump. That poses a critical problem because their traditionally conservative views are often at odds with Trump’s twisted brand of populism. Trumpulism favors cordial relations with Russia and its strongman Vladimir Putin. It proposes to spend a trillion dollars on infrastructure improvements, mainly benefiting wealthy contractors. It is critical of the U.S. alliance with NATO. It would impose stiff tariffs on American companies with foreign factories. All of these positions are in direct opposition to decades of Republican doctrine.

The problem now is that Republicans are literally afraid to speak their minds. They have been warned by Trump and his surrogates that any diversion from total obedience to his agenda would be viewed as betrayal. As reported by Politico:

“It’s little wonder that Capitol Hill Republicans have papered over their not-insignificant policy differences with Trump, shying away from any statement about the president-elect that might possibly be construed as critical. They’re terrified of arousing the ire of their tempestuous new leader — or being labeled a turncoat by his army of followers.” […]

“Since the election, numerous congressional Republicans have refused to publicly weigh in on any Trump proposal at odds with Republican orthodoxy, from his border wall to his massive infrastructure package. The most common reason, stated repeatedly but always privately: They’re afraid of being attacked by Breitbart or other big-name Trump supporters.”

The threat from Breitbart is a real concern. Especially since its chairman, Stephen Bannon, is currently on leave to serve as Trump’s strategic advisor in the White House. But it doesn’t stop there. As South Carolina GOP Rep. Mark Sanford said, “People are naturally reticent to be the first out of the block for fear of Sean Hannity, for fear of Breitbart, for fear of local folks.”

Texas Rep. Bill Flores can attest to Sanford’s worries. After he made some rather tame remarks at a conservative conference, the Trump enforcers snapped into action. Breitbart began with an article condemning Flores for plotting to “stifle Trump’s campaign promises.” Sean Hannity of Fox News picked up the story and added his own vitriolic objections. He implied that Flores was using code to tell Trump to “Go to hell.” Subsequently, Flores was showered with complaints that included predictions of the end of his political career and even death threats. Never mind that he is one of the most conservative members of the House and a co-founder of its arch right-wing Freedom Caucus.

The media component of Trump’s Crusaders is a key to their intimidation tactics. They have the power of Fox News as well as dozens of other right-wing media outlets. Strain all of that through Facebook and Twitter and you get a powerful amplification of their defamatory propaganda.

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

The rest of the GOP caucus is learning a lesson from this. They are choosing to keep their mouths shut rather than risk offending Trump or his defenders. The StormTrumpers stand at the ready to crucify any Republican they view as disloyal or insufficiently resolute. It’s a chilling state of affairs that impinges on the core principles of democracy. And in that regard, it should not be a surprise coming from the Trump camp. His authoritarian leanings have been apparent from the start of his campaign. And since it’s clear that Republicans can’t be relied upon to defend democracy, Democrats better be prepared to do it.

Hannity Wants To Use White House Press Credentials To Punish, Censor ‘Unfriendly’ Media

The emerging profile of the Trump administration is beginning to take shape. And it is just as frightening and offensive as expected.

Sean Hannity

Donald Trump’s first two official appointments provide no confidence whatsoever of a competent, inclusive Executive Branch. Right out of the gate is the current chair of the Republican National Committee, Reince Priebus, as Chief of Staff. So the gateway to the Oval Office will be guarded by a rank political partisan with no experience in government. Secondly, Trump made his campaign chair, Stephen Bannon, his Chief Strategist. Bannon, of course, is also the CEO of Breitbart News, the alt-right’s mouthpiece for racist propaganda.

On Monday Sean Hannity of Fox News (Breitbart Lite) made his position clear regarding how Trump should handle the media. Not that Trump hasn’t already been clear that he regards it as a dishonest bunch of sleazy liars. A pro-Trump Twitter user posted a comment that caught Hannity’s eye. It said “CNN, NYT, WaPo & others shown to have colluded by @wikileaks should not receive WH press credentials.” Hannity retweeted it and responded simply “Amen.”

First of all, there have been no WikiLeaks documents revealing any collusion between the news organizations cited. That is just another invented “fact” that fuels so much of the right’s irrational outrage. The truth is that most of the WikiLeaks references to the media exposed nothing but reporters seeking information or interviews. In other words, doing their jobs.

The bigger problem here is the eagerness with which Hannity agreed that it would be proper to deny press credentials to some of the most prominent news enterprises in the country. It is a direct expression of support for punishing media for being critical of the President. That is a blatant breach of the First Amendment and the principle of freedom of the press. The White House press corps is not supposed to be the cheering section for Trump & Company.

For his part, Trump has demonstrated a hostility to the media that borders on psychotic. Journalist organizations have deemed him an unprecedented threat to press freedom. He calls reporters liars, dummies, and sleazy, as he points to them menacingly at his rallies. That has resulted in some reporters becoming targets of assaults. His vitriol has contributed to driving trust of the media to historic lows. And he has already engaged in discriminatory acts that amount to censorship by banning certain reporters from his events. They include the Washington Post, BuzzFeed, Huffington Post, Fusion, Univision, the Des Moines Register, and the New Hampshire Union Leader.

On the other hand, Trump has granted press passes to some unsavory characters who don’t qualify as legitimate media. A notable example is James Edwards of the Political Cesspool blog. Edwards is an unabashed racist who has written favorably about slavery. That’s the sort of “journalist” that makes the grade in Trump’s Ivory Tower. If The Donald’s Politburo has its way only Breitbart News and the National Enquirer would receive credentials.

However, it may not be that easy for them to carry out their purge. Authority over who gets press passes to the White House belongs to the Standing Committee of Correspondents on Capitol Hill. The committee is made up of credentialed congressional reporters. But the White House could still forbid individuals based on informal criteria mainly involving security. Even then, it might encounter opposition from the media and the public if it acted out of partisanship or revenge.

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

Hannity’s hypocrisy, however, is both stunning and typical. The same Hannity who now favors punishing “unfriendly” media, used to have seizures if President Obama said anything mildly critical of the press. And this anti-First Amendment view is plainly shared by Trump and his inner circle of autocrats. Without strict oversight of the Trump administration’s tendency toward censorship, it will surely try to poison press relations and access. That could lead to a dangerous situation wherein an aspiring dictator could deceive the nation into creeping tyranny. It has happened before.

Trump TV Network? Here’s 7 Reasons It Will Be His Next HUGE Failure

The idea of launching a right-wing television network has been rattling around the Trump camp for months. Last June News Corpse reported that Trump insiders were talking about the possibility of Donald Trump trying to drag his glassy-eyed disciples from the musty arenas and airport hangers where he stages his rallies to the comfort of their own trailer parks. It was a terrible idea then, and it’s still a terrible idea.

Donald Trump

Undeterred, Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, continues to pursue the venture. According to reports, “Kushner has informally approached one of the media industry’s top dealmakers about the prospect of setting up a Trump television network after the presidential election in November.” Also reported is that “Kushner and the Republican candidate himself are thinking about how to capitalize on the populist movement that has sprung up around their campaign in the event of an election defeat to Democrat Hillary Clinton next month.”

The first notable revelation here is that Trump is spending an inordinate amount of attention on his post-election activities. And they do not involve being president. Perhaps he has recognized what so many of us already know: He’s toast. But even more problematic for him, the TrumpTV project is destined for defeat. There are numerous reasons for that ranging from personal inadequacies to economic realities. Here is a list of the most obvious reasons for a TrumpTV disaster:

1) Donald Trump is one of the worst businessmen of his generation

Trump has suffered multiple bankruptcies. He has underperformed the markets within which his companies operate. He is currently being sued for fraud. And he couldn’t even manage to make money in the casino business. That’s not exactly a resume that inspires confidence.

2) Trump cannot deliver ratings

He’s fooling himself if he believes that his glowing orange presence is what drove the ratings during this election season. The reason people are watching is the prospect of seeing him speak in tongues, or otherwise breakdown on live TV.

3) The programming would suck

What could his network produce to capitalize on his campaign? Lectures to his emotionally unstable viewers on how awful America is? The Alex Jones Conspiracy Theory Theater Hour? Ivanka and Ted Nugent as a bizarro Donny and Marie? The NRA’s version of CSI? The Walking Dread with David Duke? Perhaps a home shopping angle wherein he tries to sell steaks, time shares, and worthless diplomas.

4) Trump’s brand is toxic

His hate-filled campaign has re-branded him as the nation’s foremost racist, misogynist, xenophobic, hate monger since Archie Bunker. And while his supporters may seem numerous when you stuff a few thousand into a baseball stadium in Alabama, in order to succeed in TV you need millions of viewers to tune in regularly. Will his fans do that to hear the same stump speech he has been rambling off for the past year?

5) Where will the advertisers come from?

Most companies do not want to be associated with demagogic bigots. Just ask Rush Limbaugh whose advertising revenue has collapsed to the point where it is threatening the continued existence of his radio show.

6) Trump hates the media

Someone who has such open disdain for the media is unlikely to be successful as a member of the club. In just the past week he has been condemned by multiple organizations that advocate for a free press. They have called him “an unprecedented threat to the rights of journalists.” His continuous barrage of intimidation and insults have literally put reporters at risk.

7) The cable business is currently a terrible investment

Many people are abandoning cable (cord-cutters) in favor of services like Netflix and Hulu. There is an over-saturation of channels struggling to get attention. Cable systems have no space for new channels. And people with far more adoring fans have had a tough time rolling out new networks. Oprah Winfrey is perfect example of one of America’s most beloved figures whose cable channel is struggling. Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin have also bombed out while trying to launch video ventures.

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

Trump may try to coax Sean Hannity to leave his perch at Fox News. That could give him a quick, but short, burst of energy. Fox’s disgraced former CEO, Roger Ailes might be persuaded to play a role. However, that could only happen if he found a way to evade the non-competition clause of his separation agreement with Fox. His campaign CEO, Stephen Bannon, would be a possibility to run the operation. Then again, that would only ensure that it appeals to the deplorable demographic that fuels his alt-right website, Breitbart News.

If Trump decides to go ahead with his cable project it will almost certainly be a personal and financial fiasco. It will follow on the heels of his landslide loss for the presidency. On that prospect Trump has expressed his opinion of what it will have meant if he loses the election. He said “if I don’t win, this will be the greatest waste of time, money and energy in my lifetime.” Well, at least until his loopy media mogul ambitions implode.