Fox News Deliberately Low-Balled Sarah Palin According To Reliable Sources (CNN)

Sarah PalinMuch has been made of the news that Tea Party queen Sarah Palin and Fox News, the cable network that served as the PR agency for the Tea Party, have parted ways. The reporting generally implied that Palin had turned down Fox’s offer to renew her contract. That is, in all likelihood, exactly what happened.

However, contract negotiations are more complex than that. And now we have reporting from CNN’s Howard Kurtz that fleshes out some of the ambiguities of the original stories. On his program Reliable Sources, Kurtz expanded on the matter by saying…

“My reporting shows that Fox News did offer Sarah Palin a new contract, but it is what I would call a low-ball offer, significantly less, a fraction of the million dollars a year she had been paid.”

In other words, Fox deliberately made an offer that they knew Palin would reject because they had no interest in retaining her beyond her current contract. As speculated previously here at News Corpse, Fox probably “offered her a moose burger and parking validation to re-up – and even that would have been more than she’s worth.” After all, why would Fox continue to overpay someone about whom Fox CEO Roger Ailes reportedly said he thinks is an idiot?

Palin’s star has been fading fast. Fox News only posted a modified AP story about the separation on their web site. Fox Nation, known for its rabid partisanship and rank dishonesty, didn’t report on it all. As evidence of Palin’s rapidly declining value, her first post-Fox stop was at the Internet’s home of doctored videos and right-wing propaganda, Breitbart News. There she answered a couple of vacant questions from BreitBrat Stephen Bannon, the sycophantic producer of the fawning Palin crockumentary, “The Undefeated” (the most ironically named box office bomb ever, considering it chronicles one of modern history’s most frequently defeated political failures).

In response to Bannon’s query about what she planned to do next, Palin had no answer other than vagaries about her desire to quit “preaching to the choir.” She spoke of “sharing more broadly the message of the beauty of freedom” to a larger audience. She didn’t give any indication of where she would find an audience receptive to her wingnuttery that she thinks is larger than Fox News from which she was just ousted. The narrow appeal of her conservative extremism is unlikely to find much acceptance beyond the tiny choir that is currently singing from her warped hymnal.

Then Bannon asked her where she thinks the country stands today and she launched into a dirty laundry list of every worn out criticism the right has lobbed at Obama for four years. She spoke of deficits and unemployment – problems that resulted from George Bush’s mismanagement of the economy and have improved under Obama. Of course, she also included fabricated controversies about ObamaCare, Benghazi, and gun control, that are a staple of the right’s outrage machine.

Palin told BreitBrat Bannon that “Conservatism didn’t lose.” She blames the 2012 GOP debacle entirely on Mitt Romney, despite the fact that he ran as a “severely conservative” candidate embracing every position held dear to the Republican far-right fringe. And she declares that “we haven’t begun to fight! But we delight in those who underestimate us.” In that regard she must be filled to the brim with delight, because it would hard to have a lower estimation of the woman who thinks a “gotcha” question is “What magazines do you read.”

On the basis of that level of insightful commentary, it’s no wonder that Fox chose to insult Palin with a pittance of her prior pay, and free her to tarnish the reputation of some other news enterprise (i.e. Breitbart). Apparently somebody at Fox has concluded that their reputation has already been tarnished enough.

Fox Nation vs. Reality: Obama’s Imaginary Foreign Fundraising

A new report released by a right-wing organization is receiving a great deal of attention from the conservative media circus. The Government Accountability Institute’s report alleges that President Obama is unlawfully soliciting and receiving donations from foreign nationals.

Fox Nation

At Fox Nation the headline is a sensationalistic “Foreign Fundraising Scandal Rocks Obama Campaign.” But it appears that their idea of “rocking” is something like the Eagles on Valium. Others in the anti-Obama press posted stories blaring that “Obama bundler tied to Chinese government? (Hot Air);” “Is the Obama Campaign Being Financed by Foreign Donations? (Examiner);” “How Much of Obama’s $181 Million September Haul Was Illegal? (Breitbart);” “Corruption: Exposing Barack Obama’s Illegal Foreign Campaign (Townhall);” “Obama Campaign Receiving Illegal Donations from Foreigners (Media Research Center).” And of course, the kiddies at Fox & Friends chimed in with an interview of the study’s authors that began with Steve Doocy asserting that “the Obama campaign is breaking the law.”

There’s just one little problem with all of this frothing outrage. There isn’t any evidence that any of it is true. The study doesn’t cite a single example of a foreign donation to the Obama campaign. The authors admitted to Doocy that there is no such evidence. The study’s premise is based entirely on their discovery of the Obama.com domain, which is not owned by or affiliated with the campaign or the President. The domain is registered in Shanghai and redirects to the official Obama web site (BarackObama.com). Donations cannot be made at Obama.com.

So the whole scandal consists of a foreign registered web site that cannot receive donations and links to President Obama’s campaign web site, but offers no proof that any non-American citizen made a donation. SHOCKING!

What the articles reporting this study leave out is that its authors are rabid right-wingers with long histories of bashing Obama and Democrats. Stephen K. Bannon, the co-founder and Executive Chairman the Government Accountability Institute (GAI) is also the Executive Chairman of Breitbart News and the director of disreputable and unsuccessful films such as Sarah Palin’s “The Undefeated,” and the anti-Obama diatribe “The Hope and the Change.” Steve Doocy of Fox News has interviewed Bannon before in connection with his films, but today introduced him only as the co-founder of GAI.

The failure to disclose the true identity of the study’s authors is another example of the utter lack of ethics on the right. But the most brazen dishonesty is that Breitbart News ran this story in an article by Mike Flynn asserting as fact that Obama had taken illegal donations and stating that “details about Obama’s fundraising windfall and a new report this morning from the Government Accountability Institute (GAI) raise troubling questions.” But Flynn never disclosed that the GAI he referenced in his story is run by his boss, Stephen Bannon.

This is a common tactic on the right. They create a bunch of shell organizations that release versions of the same propaganda and then refer to each other for verification of the things they already said. Eventually they cast the net wider to include friendly media like Fox News and Rush Limbaugh, and the circle of disinformation keeps spinning their lies. Then they complain that their fake news items are ignored by legitimate media. I wonder why.

Fox News Airs Hour Long Commercial For Anti-Obama Film On Hannity

Fox News has long served as the public relations arm of the Republican Party. Their purpose, as always, is to promote the GOP and the conservative agenda throughout their broadcast day. In pursuit of that mission they regularly feature Republican guests in the friendliest of environments. And whenever there is a conservative cause to promote (i.e. Tea Party, Palin movie, right-wing blog, anti-left messaging, etc.), Fox steps up to take the leading role.

Consistent with this mission, Friday night’s episode of Sean Hannity’s program on Fox News was a blatant infomercial promoting an anti-Obama movie by the people who brought us Citizens United. The crocumentary “The Hope and the Change” consumed the entire hour of Hannity’s program.

Sean Hannity - Hope and Change

The primetime program featured lengthy clips from the film as well as interviews with the film’s creators, David Bossie and Steve Bannon. Bossie is the head of Citizens United, the organization that prompted the abhorrent Supreme Court decision that made it possible for individuals and corporations to donate unlimited sums of cash to political candidates and causes. Bannon is the director of the monumental flop, “Sarah Palin: Undefeated,” a movie that managed to fail miserably despite millions of dollars in free publicity courtesy of Fox News. Bannon went on to take the reins of Breitbart News after the sudden death of Andrew Breitbart, and he somehow succeeded in making the site even more idiotic.

Hannity opened the infomercial with the stark declaration that…

“I don’t say this lightly, but I mean every word of this. This is the most powerful documentary I’ve ever seen in my life.”

That’s quite a testimonial. Hannity didn’t reveal what other documentaries he’s seen, but it’s fair to guess that his second favorite would be “Triumph of the Will,” Hitler’s propaganda film directed by Nazi propagandist Leni Riefenstahl. Now that may seem like an unfair attempt to associate Hannity and the anti-Obama film with the Third Reich, but the film actually incorporates portions of Riefenstahl’s score, and Bossie openly admits to intentionally including the music for effect. When asked about his choice of music Bossie confessed that “There are no accidents in this film.” So the Hitler reference was deliberate on the part of the filmmakers.

Along with Bossie and Bannon, a key figure in the film’s production was Pat Caddell, the former democratic pollster who has become a fixture on Fox News whenever they need someone they can falsely identify as a Democrat who will mercilessly, and dishonestly, savage his former colleagues. Caddell’s role was to assemble a group of disenchanted Obama supporters who could be manipulated to bash the President’s reelection bid.

In fact, the whole focus of the film’s message was that there are some folks who voted for Obama in 2008 who don’t plan to vote for him again. That isn’t exactly an earth shattering revelation. Many people on both sides of the political spectrum change their minds. But the people featured in this film were particularly daft. They expressed their disappointment in the President because he didn’t fulfill their expectations of miraculous healings and the saving of souls. In their own words they seemed to believe that Obama could achieve the impossible, and when he didn’t they abandoned him. That is probably a tiny demographic in America and they are not likely to have a noticeable impact on the election.

By comparison, the Obama campaign just released a video of former Republicans who will be supporting the President in November. Their stories are far more representative of typical moderates who are surprised and appalled by the extremist leanings of the modern Republican Party.

Republicans just adopted a platform for the party’s convention that illustrates how far from the mainstream they have drifted. It includes an anti-abortion plank with no exceptions for rape, incest, or the life of the mother; an immigration plank that calls for “self-deportation;” a plank advocating a return to the gold standard; a provision denying women a role in combat; opposition to same-sex marriage; and support for turning Medicare into a voucher program that will cost seniors thousands of dollars more.

Those are real issues that will drive the voting decisions of rational moderates. The glassy-eyed sycophants plucked out of obscurity by the anti-Obama film crew will have zero effect on clear-thinking voters as they evaluate the agendas put forward by Obama and Romney. What may have an effect, however, are the millions of dollars the filmmakers have promised to spend on advertising their crocumentary. They can finance their campaign with funds acquired from the sort of Super PACs that their Supreme Court decision enabled.

What’s disturbing about this is that they freely admit that their purpose is not so much to promote the film, but to let their ads serve as disguised political messages aimed at disparaging the President and affecting the outcome of the election. The reason that they chose this month to release the film was so their advertising would appear during the campaign season and they could pretend that it was merely marketing for the movie. And I repeat, this is not a conspiracy theory, it is something they specifically admit to and boast about.

Of course, the filmmakers always have Fox News to fuel their hype. The GOP network is more than happy to donate as much time as necessary to promote the movie, just as they have done for prior projects. The Hannity show was just the beginning. The film will officially debut at the Republican National Convention Etch-a-Sketch next week, and there will surely be more segments devoted to the film on Fox News. And while they will help to boost the success of this commercial, for-profit hit piece, it is highly unlikely that Fox will give much time (if any) to the political communication above from the Obama campaign. That would, after all, be too much like actually reporting the news which, as we know, Fox doesn’t do.

Sarah Palin’s Undefeated Headed For TV Already

Stephen Bannon, the writer/director of Sarah Palin’s The Undefeated, has announced his next documentary project: Custer’s Victory – The inspirational saga of a brave general whose tiny band of soldiers tossed King Tut’s tea into San Francisco Bay. But seriously…..

OverratedThe Undefeated is having as difficult a time living up to its name as its subject does. After pretending the opening was a massive success, the film’s defenders tried to make excuses for its obvious failure by whining about how little promotion it had. To the contrary, it was promoted heavily to its target audience. It had a screening at the RightOnline Conference hosted by Andrew Breitbart. It’s official premiere was in Iowa with Sarah Palin in attendance. The Fox News television and Internet PR machine was hyping it non-stop.

Now, after its second weekend in theaters, the film has sunk to even more embarrassing lows. Despite promises that it would roll out nationally, it added only four new theaters. The total boxoffice for the weekend was just $24,000, a 63% decline from last weekend. And perhaps most emblematic of a cinematic fiasco, the producers just announced that the movie is going straight to video – after less than two weeks in theatrical release. The press release from the distributor is a hilarious feast of hallucinatory grandeur. It reads like an announcement of triumph:

“Victory Film Group and ARC Entertainment, the distributor of ‘The Undefeated,’ the film about Gov. Sarah Palin’s rise from obscurity to national prominence, jointly announced today that beginning on September 1st the film will be available to 75 million homes via Video on Demand and Pay-Per-View access through national and regional cable and satellite operators.”

Translation: Our movie sucked so bad in theaters that we’re desperately trying to salvage our investment and reputation by jumping immediately to television in the hopes that we can con some addled-brained Tea Baggers out of a few more bucks.

The press release went to say that “a ‘Special Edition’ DVD will contain additional new content and will only be sold in Walmart stores.” Now that’s an affirmation of achievement if there ever was one. The CEO of ARC Entertainment remarked that the company has been “inundated with requests from people wanting the film to be made available in their market.” Just not in their theaters. He continued by expressing how excited he is “about having this film made available to the entire country earlier than expected.” The producers of Harry Potter must be mortified that their movie will be stuck in cinemas for another six months and won’t be “available to the entire country” for a year or more.

These entertainment geniuses are attempting to argue that the empty theaters are a sign of “overwhelming demand” from the public who are just so darned anxious to see the picture in their own homes. Despite this hankering for the film, the producers assert that they will still have to embark on a multimillion dollar campaign to promote the TV offering. It’s a good thing that that’s a load of BS, because otherwise they would be losing even more money on this turkey.

This pathetic display of disinterest in the Palin crockumentary that was heralded as the true story of the half-term governor, and that would polish her image and reveal her greatness, cannot portend well for her presidential ambitions, if she really has any. If the people who would be her most ardent supporters won’t go to see her vanity bio-pic, then we shouldn’t expect voters to go out of their way either. America views Palin as a quitter, a loser, and a washed up reality star. At this point Khloe Kardashian would probably out-poll Palin.

Sarah Palin: An Excruciating Combination Of Bombast And Whining

Sarah PalinThe upcoming Sarah Palin crockumentary, hilariously titled The Undefeated, has been screening before selected audiences. The reaction hasn’t been particularly encouraging. For the most part conservatives are swooning over its unabashedly reverential treatment of the former half-term governor and defeated VP candidate, while liberals note the historical revisionism that excises all of her missteps and muddle-headedness.

The most surprising critique comes from an unlikely source. Kyle Smith is the film critic for the New York Post. The Post is not only a notoriously right-wing, tabloid rag, it is also owned by Rupert Murdoch, the same person who employs Sarah Palin at his Fox News Channel. So here is what is being said about the movie from its friendliest faction:

“Its tone is an excruciating combination of bombast and whining, it’s so outlandishly partisan that it makes Richard Nixon look like Abraham Lincoln and its febrile rush of images – not excluding earthquakes, car wrecks, volcanic eruption and attacking Rottweilers – reminded me of the brainwash movie Alex is forced to sit through in ‘A Clockwork Orange.’ Except no one came along to refresh my pupils with eyedrops.”

In other words, the movie is a painstakingly accurate representation of its subject. It will be premiering in Iowa next month, followed by New Hampshire and other early primary states. And Fox News still keeps Palin on the air as if she were not campaigning. The producers hope to launch a limited release in mostly red states later in the year. Expect it to achieve success similar to that of the Tea Party-promoted Atlas Shrugged. Which is to say that it will fail miserably. And like Atlas Shrugged, the free market-loving, Randian, Tea Partiers will blame everything but the film’s shoddy production and tedious, predictability for its failure.

The prospects for this project are conspicuously weak. Despite the Pavlovian frenzy on the part of the media, Palin is actually a marginal figure with approval ratings in the twenties. That is not the sort of product that fills seats in theaters. Her books have sold successively worse, and her TLC cable show lost viewers just about every week it was on the air. So where is the audience for this outside of the waning Palin Appreciation Society?

The one potentially positive outcome of this film is that, after it bombs, perhaps the media will grasp that Palin is nothing more than a political pet rock – a gag gift that does not deserve the attention that is showered on her. And since she hates the press so much, and refuses to interact with it, maybe they will stop following her around like lost puppies.

UNDEFEATED? Sarah Palin Goes Hollywood

Sarah PalinSarah Palin is about to hit the big screen with a two hour fantasy adaptation of her career in politics. Conservative filmmaker Stephen Bannon produced the crockumentary at the behest of TeamPalin. And if the comedy potential for this project weren’t inherent, the title of this tale of the half-term governor and defeated candidate for vice-president is reportedly “Undefeated.” I suppose that she and President McCain are getting ready for their walk down the red carpet when this thing premieres at the White House.

[Update] Reviews are beginning to trickle in.

Scott Conroy at RealClearPolitics was invited to review a rough cut of the film and wrote an extended analysis that described a work of blatant propaganda. The film lionizes the Mama Grizzly as a fighter against government corruption while omitting her own ethical lapses (i.e. TrooperGate) and pretending that embarrassing episodes, like her inability to tell Katie Couric what she reads, didn’t exist. Anyone who thinks that this fluff piece will provide useful information about Palin might better spend their time watching Alice in Wonderland. Conroy offers this synopsis of Palin’s morality play:

“Divided into three acts, the film makes the case that despite the now cliched label, Palin was indeed a maverick who confronted the powerful forces lined up against her to achieve wide-ranging success in a short period of time. The second part of the film’s message is just as clear, if more subjective: that Sarah Palin is the only conservative leader who can both build on the legacy of the Reagan Revolution and bring the ideals of the tea party movement to the Oval Office.

Rife with religious metaphor and unmistakable allusions to Palin as a Joan of Arc-like figure, “The Undefeated” echoes Palin’s “Going Rogue” in its tidy division of the world between the heroes who are on her side and the villains who seek to thwart her at every turn.”

The question I have is: at what point do Palin’s activities constitute a presumption of a candidacy for office? Conroy notes that she has hired a chief of staff and that “her team of advisers is operating under the notion that they are laying the groundwork for a future campaign, until they are told otherwise.” Yet she still retains a position with Fox News. Fox previously suspended (and later rescinded) contracts with Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich due to their campaign activities. Mike Huckabee came under similar scrutiny but then announced that he would not run. It is time for Fox to demand that Palin declare her intentions or to remove her from her duties as a political analyst and contributor.

One explanation for the inaction by Fox is that they already know her intentions and are keeping them under wraps. That, of course, would be an egregious violation of journalistic ethics. A credible news enterprise would not withhold such obviously newsworthy information. The only reason to do so would be for the political and/or financial benefit of the subject and/or netowrk, and that is not the role of the media. Just the appearance of this conflict is enough to justify that Fox insist upon Palin making an announcement, one way or the other, or cutting her loose.

In closing, Conroy says that…

“The film’s impending release — and the frenzied media attention that it is sure to generate — will serve as a vivid wake-up call that despite the many obstacles in front of her, Palin’s entry into the race would turn the campaign on its head in an instant, just as it did in 2008.”

That may very well be true, but it should not be. This film is just an extension of Palin’s public relations strategy. She has not had a news conference, or an interview with an impartial, non-Fox reporter, since she quit being governor. Her sole methods of communication have been through Fox News, Facebook, and Twitter.

Consequently, the media should not be assisting her PR campaign by hyping her Tweets or this movie. Until she stands up before real representatives of the press, she should be ignored by the press. She is not a public figure, she is a product. And the media has no business participating in her marketing.

Generation Zero vs. Capitalism: A Love Story

Last Night Sean Hannity devoted the entire hour of his Fox News program to the documentary “Generation Zero.” This morning Fox Nation featured it on their web site as a “Must-See” film.

Generation Zero recently made its public debut at the Tea Baggers Ball in Nashville and was subsequently screened at CPAC, where it was introduced by the terminally choleric Andrew Breitbart. The film was produced by David Bossie of Citizens United, the plaintiff in the recently decided Supreme Court case that granted corporations unprecedented financial participation in federal elections. It was directed by Stephen Bannon who, in another life, produced the Sean Penn directed “The Indian Runner.” Don’t tell Bill O’Reilly, who is boycotting Penn’s films.

I haven’t seen this film (it’s not actually been released yet), but its pedigree and cheer leaders reveal something of its intended mission. The web site says the film is not about the failure of capitalism, but it goes on to say that it will “change everything you thought you knew about Wall Street and Washington.” That assertion makes it difficult to separate the movie’s message from the tenets of capitalism. From reviews and discussion of the film, it seems the basic premise is that the current economic meltdown we find ourselves struggling through was caused by the selfishness and egocentrism of the children of Woodstock. This is a peculiar and illogical theory.

It’s a peculiar theory in that it presumes to blame the “Baby Boom” generation for today’s economic catastrophe. But in doing so, the film is really blaming the poor parenting skills of the “Greatest Generation” who, in their zeal to shield their kids from the pain of depression and war, acceded to their every material want and raised them to be shallow and self-indulgent. That’s a pretty harsh condemnation of the generation that survived decades of trauma in the first half of the last century. The filmmakers are essentially charging the generation that fought its way through the economic disasters of the 1930’s and the worldwide conflagrations of the 1940’s with raising their children to be so socially decadent as to lead the nation into near economic collapse. Do the filmmakers really believe that these parents passed no lessons on to their kids about the hardships they endured?

It’s an illogical theory in that it attempts to create linkage between the hippies of the 1960’s and the financial barons of the 1990’s. So much of the rhetoric of right-wing history revisionists relies on castigating the youth movement of the 1960’s. They are portrayed as drug-addled degenerates and dropouts who contributed nothing of value to society. Their preoccupation with trivialities like civil rights, peace, and free love, permanently labeled them as subversive and anti-social. Since when did their reputation get rehabilitated to the point that they are now seen as captains of industry and finance with the blood of our capitalistic empire on their hands? Surely many former hippies went on to successful careers, but I would venture to say that not one of them became the CEO of AIG or Merrill Lynch.

The Baby Boomers that took the helm of big business were the ones that kept their hair short and listened to Pat Boone in the 60’s. They were the hall monitors and the narcs at their prep schools. They were born to wealth and privilege. It was they, who were already inbred with self-indulgence and egotism, who held the reins of power in the 2000’s. It certainly was not a bunch of idealistic, public school, counter-culture, former flower children who somehow grew up to be greedy sociopaths.

It wasn’t a cabal of aging hippies who invented credit default swaps. It was a cooperative of Wall Street pirates and their Washington patrons. It wasn’t the result of permissive parenting, but of submissive regulators and legislators. While Generation Zero dwells way too much on an unrealistic Leave It To Beaver version of the 1950’s, it actually does approach this part of the problem as well. The movie does not neglect the culpability of an entrenched financial class that has no historical memory whatsoever.

Ironically, that’s exactly what Michael Moore presented in “Capitalism: A Love Story.” Moore’s film was an indictment of the coziness between Wall Street and Washington. And it assailed the notion that solutions had to be afforded to the tottering financial institutions, rather than to the suffering citizens who were the victims. So some of the themes in Generation Zero that are now being heralded by the rightist media were previously explored by Moore. But while there are clear parallels between Moore’s Capitalism and Bannon’s Zero, it is unlikely that either side will acknowledge it. The chasm is far too wide to cross. Even on Hannity’s show there was an exchange that came close to recognizing this ideological affinity, but it was ultimately ignored as they broke away to a commercial.

Sean Hannity: Is it the political system that is more corrupt? Because I believe Capitalism works. Capitalism is the answer.
David Bossie, Producer: Clearly Capital Hill is corrupt. Capital Hill is the problem, not Wall Street here.
Stephen Bannon, Director: I think it an inextricably linked network between Capital Hill and Wall Street. [...] You’ve had the American taxpayer, the average, middle-class American, paying taxes to bailout these big firms, and there’s been no change in behavior, no change in structure no change in regulation.

It’s interesting to see Bossie quickly suck up to Hannity and absolve Wall Street of any liability. It’s even more interesting to see Bannon contradict both of them and spread the blame evenly across the econo-political spectrum. But most interesting would be if all the people that go to see Generation Zero would pick up a copy of Capitalism: A Love Story as well. They may realize that Michael Moore is not the demon he’s made out to be by the right. And conversely, Moore might take a look at Generation Zero. If it isn’t stuffed with right-wing polemics and denunciations of 60’s “radicals,” perhaps he could promote it alongside his own movie.

If both of these films tell the same story of overarching corporate greed and government complicity, it would make a compelling double bill.