CNN President Blisters State-Run TV (aka Fox News) as ‘a Pure Propaganda Machine’

Two decades ago a conservative media mogul (Rupert Murdoch) and a right-ring political operative (Roger Ailes) colluded to form America’s first overtly partisan news network devoted to advancing a regressive agenda that favored corporations and the wealthy. And ever since Fox News has faithfully served it’s masters, all the while pretending to be “fair and balanced” journalists.

Donald Trump Fox News

For most of that time the rest of the media sheepishly approached Fox News as just another competitor. They rarely spoke honestly about how Fox was deliberately staining the one profession explicitly cited in the Constitution. Consequently, Fox got away with a lot of brazenly biased propaganda and managed to corral America’s Deplorables into a media pen where they felt safe and secure.

So it was rather surprising to hear CNN president Jeff Zucker’s criticism of Fox at the Financial Times’ “Future of News” conference on Thursday. He nailed Fox News in a way that few media executives have in the past twenty years. While nothing he said would be a revelation to anyone who has watched the network for more than two minutes, coming from a corporate media honcho it is borderline breathtaking. Here’s a quick summary of the highlights as reported by The Hollywood Reporter:

    Zucker said that…

  • Fox News “is really state-run TV. It is a pure propaganda machine, and I think does incredible disservice to this country.”
  • “The idea that it’s a news channel, I think, is really not the case at all.”
  • Fox News “has nothing on” the Russian government-run TASS Russian News Agency.
  • “I think they are lost in what is a complete propaganda machine.”

In addition, THR reports Zucker saying that “Fox News has changed substantially in the last two years, following the departure of late founder Roger Ailes. He described the change at the network as ‘shocking.'” However the only thing that might have changed is that in the post-Ailes era the executives at Fox were much less skilled at spewing rightist bullshit. Their deceitful machinations are more visible and sleazy. That may be what drove long-time Fox contributor Ralph Peters to quit the network that he now says he is “ashamed” to be associated with. According to THR Fox News was invited to participate in the event but declined.

Fox News continues to be the mouthpiece of the Republican Party and Donald Trump’s most dedicated defender. It serves as the personnel recruiting pool for the Trump administration. Among those tapped by Trump for White House posts were Heather Nauert, K.T. McFarland, Ben Carson, Sebastian Gorka, Richard Grennell, and Jonathan Wachtel. And just today Trump announced that Fox’s John Bolton will replace H.R. McMaster as his National Security Advisor. And even his legal team is now being stuffed with Fox News personalities, including Joseph DiGenova and, maybe his wife, Victoria Toensing.

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

CNN is not without its share of journalistic failures. They were among the news outlets that plastered the airwaves with Trump’s thoroughly un-newsworthy rallies (rants) during the campaign. And they still host Trump-fluffing flacks who are only there to further disseminate Trump’s lies. However, there has never been a presidential administration that was so rife with media shills from a single source. The only people that Trump recognizes are those he’s seen on TV. And the only TV he watches is Fox News. So after a year in office he still behaves like an intellectually shallow reality TV game show host, rather than the president that our nation needs. Hopefully he will be voted off this island soon by Robert Mueller’s team of Survivors.

‘I Am Ashamed’ To Be Associated With Fox News, Says Long-Time Military Contributor

Lt. Col. Ralph Peters (Ret) is a familiar face on Fox News. He has been doing commentary on military matters and foreign affairs for more than a decade. He has always been a hard-core spokesman for ultra-conservative views and a fierce opponent of all things liberal. He once called President Obama a “total pussy” on the air (for which he got a two week suspension).

Fox News Ralph Peters

For a little background, Peters is so radical that he once complained that the U.S. military needed to buck up and produce more civilian casualties in order to win the war on terror. He also advocated targeting the media for military attacks, including in the U.S. But more recently he has assumed a strident “NeverTrump” position. He believes that Donald Trump is Putin’s puppet and even announced on Fox that he would be voting for Hillary Clinton because he doesn’t “want Moscow’s man in the White House,” and that “Vladimir Putin has a deep hold on Trump.”

Bearing all of that in mind, the letter Peters released on Tuesday is all the more remarkable. In it he announced that he was severing his relationship with Fox News. And the substance and tone of the document is just plain shocking. For someone so devoted to the far-right agenda, Peters’ descriptions of Fox News must sting. And no matter how much of a war-mongering neanderthal he is, he seems to have solid grasp of how reprehensible and dangerous Fox News is. So read on in amazement (emphasis added):

On March 1st, I informed Fox that I would not renew my contract. The purpose of this message to all of you is twofold:

First, I must thank each of you for the cooperation and support you’ve shown me over the years. Those working off-camera, the bookers and producers, don’t often get the recognition you deserve, but I want you to know that I have always appreciated the challenges you face and the skill with which you master them.

Second, I feel compelled to explain why I have to leave. Four decades ago, I took an oath as a newly commissioned officer. I swore to “support and defend the Constitution,” and that oath did not expire when I took off my uniform. Today, I feel that Fox News is assaulting our constitutional order and the rule of law, while fostering corrosive and unjustified paranoia among viewers. Over my decade with Fox, I long was proud of the association. Now I am ashamed.

In my view, Fox has degenerated from providing a legitimate and much-needed outlet for conservative voices to a mere propaganda machine for a destructive and ethically ruinous administration. When prime-time hosts–who have never served our country in any capacity–dismiss facts and empirical reality to launch profoundly dishonest assaults on the FBI, the Justice Department, the courts, the intelligence community (in which I served) and, not least, a model public servant and genuine war hero such as Robert Mueller–all the while scaremongering with lurid warnings of “deep-state” machinations– I cannot be part of the same organization, even at a remove. To me, Fox News is now wittingly harming our system of government for profit.

As a Russia analyst for many years, it also has appalled me that hosts who made their reputations as super-patriots and who, justifiably, savaged President Obama for his duplicitous folly with Putin, now advance Putin’s agenda by making light of Russian penetration of our elections and the Trump campaign. Despite increasingly pathetic denials, it turns out that the “nothing-burger” has been covered with Russian dressing all along. And by the way: As an intelligence professional, I can tell you that the Steele dossier rings true–that’s how the Russians do things.. The result is that we have an American president who is terrified of his counterpart in Moscow.

I do not apply the above criticisms in full to Fox Business, where numerous hosts retain a respect for facts and maintain a measure of integrity (nor is every host at Fox News a propaganda mouthpiece–some have shown courage). I have enjoyed and valued my relationship with Fox Business, and I will miss a number of hosts and staff members. You’re the grown-ups.

Also, I deeply respect the hard-news reporters at Fox, who continue to do their best as talented professionals in a poisoned environment. These are some of the best men and women in the business.

So, to all of you: Thanks, and, as our president’s favorite world leader would say, “Das vidanya.”

That hardly requires any elaboration. However, Fox News issued a brief and uncharacteristically weak response:

“Ralph Peters is entitled to his opinion despite the fact that he’s choosing to use it as a weapon in order to gain attention. We are extremely proud of our top-rated primetime hosts and all of our opinion programing,”

Fox didn’t even bother to refute any of Peters’ allegations regarding Fox’s devolution into a propaganda machine. Nor did they defend the assertions that Trump is a hapless asset of Vladimir Putin. They just bragged about their on-air shills (only those in primetime) and made a wholly nonsensical accusation that Peters was seeking attention. By quitting his job at a major cable TV network? Um, Okay. Let’s see if any of his former colleagues have the guts to join a long overdue and righteous exodus from Fox. Or they can stay and forever wallow in the treasonous glow of Comrade Trump’s State TV.

In the meantime, The Daily Show compiled some of Peters’ greatest hits. This is the guy who has now come around (finally) to the view that Fox News is “fostering corrosive and unjustified paranoia among viewers.”

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

Fox News Finally Books Stormy Daniels’ Attorney for an Interview – And Buries it Near Midnight

In the weeks since Donald Trump was accused of paying off a porn star to cover up his affair, Fox News has labored to keep the story from getting any traction. The Washington Post reports that between March 5 and March 9, the network only mentioned Stormy Daniels’s name nine times in their primetime shows. That compared with 144 mentions on MSNBC and 141 mentions on CNN. And last week Fox News didn’t mention her once during primetime.

Fox News Stormy Daniels

This neglect did not go unnoticed by Daniels’ attorney Michael Avenatti. He told Ari Melber on MSNBC that “I haven’t received a single interview request, not one, from Fox News.” That’s after Avenatti appeared repeatedly on many other news programs and frequently broke new information. So his absence on Fox was undoubtedly deliberate.

As a result of Avenatti’s complaints, it can now be reported that Fox News was apparently shamed into reaching out to him with a request for an interview. Avenatti accepted the offer and will appear Tuesday night. But before anyone gets the idea that Fox is being fair and balanced, note that the offer is for a segment on “Fox News @ Night with Shannon Bream,” a program that airs from 11:00 PM to midnight. So Fox is burying the interview on a late night show that frequently comes in third after MSNBC’s Brian Williams and CNN’s Don Lemon.

For a topic this important, it is journalistic malpractice to tuck it away in the wee hours. It would ordinarily be the sort of program that would bring Fox’s lips to watering. It has the tabloid salaciousness of sordid sex with an X-rated beauty queen, the intrigue of a political cover up, and the lawlessness of election tampering. If President Obama had paid off an erotica celeb to hide his tawdry promiscuity, Fox News would have turned it into twelve part mini series.

One has to wonder where the allegedly “news” focused programs on Fox are during all of this. Bret Baier and Shepard Smith have apparently declined to seek an interview with Avenatti. And even the primetime shills Tucker Carlson, Laura Ingraham, and Sean Hannity, who you would think would love to grill this “floozy’s” rep, are laying low. Could that really be the result of independent booking decisions on the part of all of these Fox anchors? Not likely. More plausible is that an edict has been declared from on high in Fox’s executive suites that Stormy and her advocates are verboten during any time period when people are actually watching?

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

This is certainly additional evidence that Fox News isn’t really a news network. They are not making editorial decisions based on news worthiness or even ratings. They are deep-sixing a huge story that has shown persistence in the news cycle for weeks. They are obviously trying to mute the criticism that they have avoided this story by airing the interview but burying near midnight with an anchor most people have never heard of. And all of this is being done to shield Donald Trump from the embarrassment that is his actual life. But unfortunately for Fox News – and thanks to the sex angle – this story is getting out no matter how badly Fox wants to crush it. Only their own regular viewers will be left ignorant, as usual.

Sean Hannity Lost What Was Left of His Alleged Mind in Bonkers Fox and Friends Spot

Some things just have to be seen to be believed – and even then it’s not always believable. Other times it takes too strong a stomach to even sit through the unbelievable thing. Sean Hannity of Fox News has generously provided examples of all of the above.

Fox News Sean Hannity

On Monday morning Hannity visited his colleagues at Fox and Friends to unload a pile defenses for his beleaguered Messiah, Donald Trump. The world around the President must seem to be falling apart as new revelations concerning his unsavory connections to Russia keep spilling out. Trump himself is in pure panic mode and is posting tweets that affirm his guilty conscience. So he is in dire need of a valiant defender to come to his aid. Unfortunately, all he has is the Doofus Squad on Fox and Friends and Sean Hannity.

Hannity’s segment with the “Curvy Couch” potatoes went off the rails from the start. What follows is his run-on, addled-brain meltdown just as it occurred on the air. Buckle in (video below):

“You’ve got the whole issue of Christopher Steele. You know, all this talk about Trump/Russia collusion, the only person that colluded in that campaign with the Russians, was Hillary Clinton. Hillary Clinton bought and paid for what turned out to be Russian lies. She fixes a primary election against Bernie. Then Hillary has a criminal investigation fixed for her. She tries to use Russian lies she pays for and funnels through Perkins Coie to Fusion GPS to hire a British foreign outsider who uses Russian contacts. Then the worst part of this whole story is then that unverified uncorroborated dossier is then brought before a FISA court when a FISA application, and three subsequent renewal applications to spy on a campaign associate and ostensibly the Trump campaign. Nobody told that judge, or any of those four judges, how it’s possible that Hillary paid for that. They never told them.”

And inhale. Before anyone hurts themselves trying to absorb that, here is a brief summary: Hillary Clinton bought a dossier on Trump that was mean.

That’s really all there is to it. Hannity just repeated the same issues with different words for two minutes. And none of it was true. Neither Clinton nor her campaign colluded with Russians. They did partially fund research that was started by the right-wing Free Beacon. And the firm that conducted the research hired a respected former British intelligence professional to collect information from Russian sources.

And what Hannity calls “the worst part of this whole story” was a blatant lie. Much, but not all, of the Steele dossier was verified. None of of it was found to be false. The FISA court was, in fact, told that the dossier was partially funded by political partisans. Even Devin Nunes, who chaired the hopelessly biased Intelligence Committee inquiry, admitted that in his Republican report. And it was not the sole – or even main – justification for the FISA warrant. What’s more, Hannity proves that he doesn’t understand the FISA application process. The renewals are required every ninety days and may not use justifications that were cited in previous applications. So the dossier could only have been used once, not four times.

Sadly, the people who watch Hannity and Fox and Friends will never be told about these factual details. They will only hear the rapid-fire allegations that they can’t logically follow, and the fear in Hannity’s voice. And that will be enough for them to be certain that these crackpot conspiracy theories are true. After all, the glassy-eyed disciples of Trump are no more sane than Hannity is.

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

Fox News Senior Judicial Analyst, Judge Napolitano, Calls McCabe Firing ‘Obstruction of Justice’

The President of the United States is trying his best to help his accusers make a case against him. Donald Trump’s relentless tweeting demonstrates what lawyers call “consciousness of guilt.” On Monday morning he posted a message that said nothing more than “A total WITCH HUNT with massive conflicts of interest!” These hollow cries for absolution do nothing to exonerate him, but rather they portray him as pathetic and desperate.

Fox News Judge Napolitano

Now Trump is even losing some his most reliable defenders. While most of Fox News continues to place themselves as human shields to deflect any criticisms, a couple of stragglers have wondered off the track. One of those is Judge Andrew Napolitano, senior judicial analyst for Fox News. He appeared on two Fox broadcasts Monday making remarks that will surely infuriate Trump, if his daycare nurses allow him to see it. The most damning commentary came during an interview with perplexed host Bill Hemmer. They were discussing the firing of FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe when Napolitano said this (video below):

“Andrew McCabe is more likely than not to be a witness against the Attorney General’s boss, the President of the United States. I think that firing him in that environment could very well be interpreted as an effort to diminish his effectiveness as a witness. What’s that called? Obstruction of justice.”

Indeed. And obstruction is one of the key facets of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. Elsewhere on State TV (aka Fox News) Trump’s sycophants have been fiercely insisting that Trump is innocent of every allegation against him, and that Mueller is a corrupt partisan who is part of the conspiracy to drive Trump from office. So this assessment by Fox’s top legal contributor is a significant departure from their propaganda doctrine.

Also, on the Fox Business Network, Maria Bartiromo assembled a panel of Trump fluffers to defend the firing of McCabe, whom they slandered as a liar. Bartiromo’s introduction falsely stated that McCabe was found to have lied by the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR). In fact, since the report has not been made public yet, all that is known is that Attorney General Jeff Sessions said that McCabe “lacked candor.” There is a reason that Sessions used those weasel words rather than asserting as fact that McCabe had lied. Most likely the OPR’s report didn’t find McCabe to be untruthful. And When Napolitano got a chance to speak he pulled the rug out from under Bartiromo and her pro-Trump panel:

“I have to tell you though, terminating someone a day before their pension kicks in – after twenty-on years of service, the number two person in the FBI – strikes me as spiteful and politically reckless. And it’s reckless because this person, McCabe is about to testify against Jeff Sessions’ boss, the President of the United States. Why would you fire him in this environment?”

To which Bartiromo replied:

“Don’t you think that people started getting upset when they heard that he was set to get a million dollars in his pension … because of some of the broad outcry from the public saying ‘Why is he, after what he just did…'”

“Broad outcry?” What “public” is she referring to? I doubt most Americans – even Fox News viewers – were aware of or upset about anything relating to McCabe’s pension. She is desperately grasping at imaginary straws. And neither Bartiromo nor her panel had any response to Napolitano’s characterization of McCabe’s firing as spiteful and reckless.

The fact that Napolitano is making the rounds at Fox to reinforce the absurdity and vindictiveness of Sessions and Trump should cause the President’s tiny heart to tremor. But he will likely only pay attention to his loyal supporters at Fox and Friends and his pal Sean Hannity. He did, in fact, tweet a promo for Hannity’s guest spot on Fox and Friends Monday morning calling it “great” before it even aired. Somehow he knew what to expect. And his obviously guilty behavior suggests that he also knows what to expect from Mueller, McCabe, James Comey, Michael Flynn, etc., when the special counsel investigation is complete.

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

This is ‘Real’ News? Fox and Friends Interview with Diamond and Silk Descends Into Lunacy

Last June Fox News retired their classic slogan “fair and balanced.’ It has taken nearly a year for them to come up with a new one. But earlier this month they revealed it to be “Real News, Real Honest Opinion.” Their promo promised that “It’s about to get REAL.” Which kind of implies that it’s been bullshit up until mow.

Trump Diamond and Silk

An example of what Fox regards as “Real News’ was on display Sunday morning on Fox and Friends. The “Curvy Couch” potatoes aired a segment about the firing of FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe. That’s a serious issue and demands serious attention and thoughtful analysis. So naturally Fox and Friends turned to YouTube vloggers Diamond and Silk.

For those of you who are unaware of this dynamic duo, they are African-American sisters who were confirmed nobodies until they pledged their unquestioning allegiance to Donald Trump. At that point they were snatched up by Fox News and other right-wing media as representatives of the black Republican perspective. Since polls show that Trump is viewed favorably by only about three percent of African-American voters, D&S made a profitable choice to become among the few black supporters of Trump in the media. They join such intellectual icons as Herman Cain and Omarosa as Fox News regulars.

On Sunday’s episode of Fox and Friends, the subject of McCabe’s abrupt dismissal after more than twenty years of service to his country came up and the insight of D&S was sought out (video below). The pair, who seem to perform only as a twosome, began their predictably negative harangue in harmony by complaining that McCabe has been offered work by Democrats in congress so that he can preserve his pension:

Diamond: What we don’t understand is how is it that the Democrats wanna offer McCabe a job so he can have money in his pocket, but they wouldn’t even come to the table for law abiding Americans to make sure we had money in our pockets. What are the Democrats trying to hide? What do McCabe have over the Democrats’ head? What are they covering up? Are they colluding? Maybe we need to bring in a special prosecutor to watch the Democrats and McCabe. Because we know Mueller is gonna turn a blind eye. That’s what I think.
Silk: And it sounds like a kickback, patty whack, give a dog a bone kinda deal.

If that sounds like the Real Housewives of Trumplandia rattling off cliched talking points, that’s because it was. Most of it had nothing to do with the question at hand. They just wanted to rant about Democrats covering up – who knows what, and colluding with – who knows who. So they shoehorned it into their routine. For the record, it’s the Democrats who have been working to put money into the pockets of the American people through increases in the minimum wage and tax reform that favors the working and middle classes rather than the rich and corporations. But D&S aren’t especially concerned with facts.

The rest of the segment was spent attacking MSNBC’s Stephanie Ruhle for making a trivial comment that Fox Christianists blew up into an unholy abomination. Ruhle merely expressed some curiosity at Trump’s choice for chief economic advisor, Larry Kudlow, suggesting that the decision was “God’s will.” That led to a couple of minutes of of outright sermonizing. And of course, the conclusion by D&S was that Democrats “despise Christianity.”

So Fox News spent nearly four minutes interviewing these ignorant blowhards who have no qualifications whatsoever to provide political analyses. That puts them in the same boat as most of Fox’s hosts and contributors. Almost none of them came to their roles with any experience in journalism or political science. And yet Fox now wants to characterize itself as the network of “real news.” But with cartoon characters like Diamond and Silk weighing in on matters as important as the President’s collusion with Russia to tamper with our elections, and obstruction of justice, they must have a very twisted definition of reality. Stay tuned for their a riveting debate on gun reform between Sean Hannity and Ted Nugent. Followed by a probing discussion of North Korea’s nukes with Happy Days’ Chachi, Scott Baio.

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

Popcorn Time: War Breaks Out at Fox News Between Shepard Smith and Sean Hannity

The undisguised, ultra-rightist biases of Fox News are all too familiar to anyone who is paying attention. Particularly since the election of Donald Trump, who has built the Fox Team into a partisan media border wall that works ferociously to defend him no matter how dishonest or disgusting his behavior. Trump even treats Fox as his recruiting pool White House personnel.

Sean Hannity Fox News

However, there is one outpost of semi-sanity on the network that occasionally diverts from the Fox gospel. Afternoon anchor Shepard Smith has been known to propound actual facts in contrast to the deliberate lies and propaganda that infect the rest of Fox’s roster. Notably, he presented a reality-based summary of the Uranium One issue that many Fox squawking heads twisted into a perverse anti-Hillary Clinton harangue. He has also offered a more compassionate view of victims of gun violence than is generally exhibited by Fox’s NRA shills. These sort of segments have made Smith the most hated man on Fox News by Fox News viewers.

Predictably, the news that Smith just signed a new, multiyear contract with Fox News has landed with a thud among the Fox faithful who have been clamoring for him to fired. And a recent profile of Smith by Time Magazine wherein he expressed some candid opinions about his employer and colleagues isn’t going to make them any happier. Smith differentiated his role as a journalist with that of the “entertainers” who populate Fox’s primetime:

“We serve different masters. We work for different reporting chains, we have different rules. They don’t really have rules on the opinion side. They can say whatever they want. If it’s their opinion. I don’t really watch a lot of opinion programming. I’m busy.” […]

“I get it,” he says, “that some of our opinion programming is there strictly to be entertaining. I get that. I don’t work there. I wouldn’t work there.”

Smith is right. And his characterization of much of Fox’s programming as entertainment is consistent with what Fox News executives have said. News Corpse reported in 2015 a variety of admissions by Fox that they are not really in the news business. Among them the confession that Fox founder and CEO, the late Roger Ailes, gave to the Hollywood Reporter. He dismissed talk that Fox competed with other news networks, instead insisting that “We’re competing with TNT and USA and ESPN.”

But Smith’s remarks did not go unnoticed by his network-mate, Sean Hannity. As the Fox host most fiercely infatuated with Trump, Hannity took offense at being trivialized as an entertainer. He tweeted this response to Smith:

Smith never mentioned Hannity in his profile, but Hannity had no reservations making this feud personal. His indignation is hysterical considering that he broke none of the “stories” (actually crackpot conspiracy theories) he itemized in his tweet. He merely regurgitated them from other sleazy sources that feed his wingnut fringe fantasies (Breitbart, Infowars, Gateway Pundit, etc.). And then he has the gall to sign off with Fox’s brand new slogan, “Real News.” Fox posted a promo for the new tagline that warned “It’s about to get REAL.” Which kind of implies that it’s been bullshit up until now.

Another problem with Hannity trash-talking Smith is that Hannity himself has denied being a journalist. Or maybe this calmly phrased tweet was just misunderstood:

Inquiring minds want to know: If Hannity is not a “journalist jackass,” then what kind of jackass is he? It’s almost impossible to tell because he keeps contradicting himself. On his radio show last August he insisted that “I’m a journalist but I’m an advocacy journalist.” Apparently Hannity is whatever he says he is at the time he’s saying it. Like most of what comes out of his mouth, it cannot be taken seriously or relied upon to be operative an hour later.

Poor Hannity must be terribly disturbed by how badly he is being crushed by MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow lately. He was moved by Fox to directly compete with her a few months ago, but they may be regretting that now. All it did was affirm how weak he is as a TV personality. And while there are a lot of Fox viewers who would like to see Smith fired, there are many more American who would prefer that Hannity is sent packing. And you can help by signing on here: Stop Hannity.

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

Fox News Laughably Mangles Report on Mueller’s Subpoena for Russia Docs From Trump Org

There was breaking news on Thursday about the investigation into Donald Trump’s unsavory connections to Russia. Special counsel Robert Mueller issued a new subpoena to the Trump Organization for all documents related to its dealings with Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin. It’s a significant development that indicates that the investigation is continuing to expand and has the President squarely in its sights.

Robert Mueller Trump

So it will surprise nobody that Fox News found a way to report this news that is both trivializing and confusing. In fact, they made it sound like good news for Trump. The mission of Fox News, of course, is to act as a shield for Trump and his Republican backers by defending him, and maligning his critics, at all costs. To that end Fox News host Dana Perino broke into her program with a Fox News Alert to rapidly misinform their viewers before any morsels of the truth could get out. She interviewed reporter Catherine Herridge on the Mueller subpoena (video below):

Perino: The New York Times is reporting that special counsel Robert Mueller has subpoenaed the Trump Organization for documents related to Russia. Chief intelligence correspondent Catherine Herridge is on Capitol Hill. Catherine, this news just broke right before the hour started.
Herridge: That’s right Dana. I’ve been making some phone calls and I spoke with one of the President’s personal attorneys who confirmed to me that the Trump Organization has been working closely and cooperatively with the office of the special counsel Robert Mueller. And at this time he was unaware that a subpoena had been issued, but he was going to check further. The key thing he said was the driving force, or the objective of the subpoena, whether it was in fact going down a new line of inquiry, or whether this was what they call a “wrap up subpoena” or a “clean up subpoena,” which is when you request records as you’re getting close to the end the of the investigation and you’re trying to tie up some loose ends.

First of all, it’s notable that Herridge only called Trump’s personal attorney to confirm this report, rather than someone at the Justice Department who would have knowledge of the subpoenas they issue. It’s also notable that Herridge didn’t identify the attorney she spoke with. Were these remarks off the record or anonymous?

More to the point, the introduction of the terms “wrap/clean up subpoena” muddies up the reporting. A quick Google of the terms found few results that weren’t referencing this Fox News segment. In fact, it’s a rather pointless distinction because all subpoenas are intended to secure information that’s relevant to the investigation and could lead to new paths of inquiry. But this spin by Fox News is intended to imply that the investigation is nearing completion and that nothing incriminating has been found. But they weren’t through trying to further deflect from the Trump/Russia connection:

Perino: So it might not signal a new aggressive approach by the special counselor?
Herridge: Well what we know through our own independent reporting is that the special counsel has been looking at the issue of the United Arab Emirates, and whether there was any financial input into the campaign by the United Arab Emirates, or whether there was a promise of better treatment after the election because of their support of then-candidate Trump.

Technically, that’s true. The UAE, along with other areas of financial misdeeds, is under investigation. But that has nothing to do with this new subpoena that specifically seeks documents from Trump related to Russia. This is an obvious dodge to create confusion and pretend that Russia isn’t the focus of this investigation. And the segment ended with a virtual admission that their furious spinning was probably all made up:

Perino: I’ve never heard of clean up subpoenas. I’m glad I had you on.
Herridge: I know. I learned of them recently too. That’s the kind of subpoena you want, apparently.
Perino: I used to work at the Justice Department. Someone was holding out on me.

See? It’s all very innocent. There’s nothing to worry about here. And the fact that these two experienced media professionals never heard of the type of subpoena that they just introduced on the air shouldn’t raise any suspicions. According to Fox News Mueller’s new subpoenas are not only uncontroversial, they are “the kind of subpoena you want.” It’s actually good news for Trump. And Fox News is the only place you’re gonna get that kind of twisted analysis.

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

Larry Kudlow is the Latest Contestant on Trump’s Reality TV Game Show Presidency

The mayhem at the White House is continuing as Donald Trump’s behavior gets ever more frantic and irrational. in the past few hours he has fired his Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, the State Department’s top diplomacy aide, Steve Goldstein, and his personal assistant, John McEntee. There are rumblings from insiders that Chief of Staff John Kelly, National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster, and Veterans Administration director David Shulkin are also on the chopping block.

Fox News Trump Apprentice

As these vacancies open up, Trump will have the opportunity to name new appointees that will be better supplicants to his will. That has already played out with his nomination of current CIA director Mike Pompeo to replace Tillerson. And the news on Wednesday is that Trump has picked CNBC contributor Larry Kudlow to succeed the fired Gary Cohn as his chief economic advisor.

By selecting Kudlow, Trump is continuing a pattern of bringing television personalities into his administration. Mostly they have been from Fox News and include K.T. McFarland, Ben Carson, Sebastian Gorka, Richard Grennell, and Jonathan Wachtel. Former Fox and Friends co-host, Heather Nauert, was also tapped by Trump to be the State Department spokesperson last year. And now she has already been promoted to replace Goldstein. Her entire career has been with Fox News and she has no diplomatic experience whatsoever.

The departure of Trump’s communications director, Hope Hicks, last month has set off a flurry of speculation as to who would fill her shoes. Among those being considered is Fox News co-host of The Five, Kimberly Guilfoyle. She has been on deck for a Trump slot for quite a while. And another Fox and Friends host, Pete Hegseth, is reportedly being wooed to lead the Veterans Administration should Shulkin get tossed. Prior to joining Fox, Hegseth headed up a Koch brothers front group that pretended to advocate for veterans. But he has zero experience running a massive bureaucracy like the VA, nor has he ever worked in the health services field that comprises much of what the VA does.

Trump’s National Security Advisor, McMaster, is also teetering on the brink. His successor is rumored to be another Fox News contributor, John Bolton. He served in George Bush’s state department and as Ambassador to the United Nations. Consequently Bolton played a major role in the fabricated weapons of mass destruction excuses to invade Iraq, as well as in the disastrous administration of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Obviously Trump is most comfortable working with TV personalities. It seems like his entire pool of possible job applicants come from the ranks of people he’s seen on Fox or other programs. His experience is so bereft of substance that he can’t possibly know anyone that has actual credentials in the jobs he needs to fill. And he wouldn’t want them anyway because they might not be photogenic. As a result, America will be burdened with shallow, unqualified amateurs running government agencies whose work affects us all. But at least they’ll look good when they sit down for softball interviews with Sean Hannity.

This is what Fox’s Laura Ingraham considers Trump “hitting his stride,” and “getting a really strong team in place.” And coincidentally, that’s exactly how Trump sees it. On Tuesday he explained to reporters that these White House shake-ups were just the normal fine tuning of personnel. “I’m really at a point,” he said, “where we’re getting very close to having the Cabinet, and other things, that I want.” That’s after a year in office where all of his original appointments were also his choices, but apparently not what he wanted. Ironically, not having the leadership one wants is something most Americans can relate to right now.

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

Fox News Excuses Tillerson Mess, White House Chaos By Saying that ‘Disarray is Trumpism’

The Tuesday Morning Massacre at Donald Trump’s White House rocked the political media. In the matter of a few hours Trump had fired the Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Steve Goldstein, the State Dept spokesman whose announcement of Tillerson’s firing contradicted the White House story, and Trump’s personal assistant, John McEntee, whose dismissal was due to an investigation for serious financial crimes (He was then immediately hired by Trump’s 2020 campaign).


However, over on Fox News the presidential pandemonium was given a much more positive spin. It didn’t represent the turmoil that everyone else was seeing. It was merely, as Fox political editor Chris Stirewalt said, “Trump being Trump.” In an interview (video below) with anchor Sandra Smith, Stirewalt dutifully pardoned the President for any malfeasance in office or mismanagement.

Smith: “Does this add to the speculation of disarray inside the West Wing? Or should one just decide that this is the way the President works?”
Stirewalt: “Well, both things could be true. Disarray may be the methodology. If disarray is a methodology, then perhaps that is Trumpism. But let’s also remember if we put this in context of what else is going on, we saw Donald Trump govern in 2017 as a very traditional kind of Republican president. In 2018 we’re seeing Trump being Trump. […] And so I think we are seeing here, maybe not disarray, but instead this real pivot back to core nationalist, populist Trumpism.”

See? It’s just Trump executing his plan perfectly. It’s all unfolding exactly the way he wants it to. Nothing out of order, or out of the ordinary. He is just “pivoting” back to his “core nationalist, populist Trumpism,” whatever the hell that is.

If those remarks weren’t ludicrous enough, Stirewalt also had to assert that last year Trump was “very traditional.” In what dystopian nightmare? 2017 was a year filled with lying, hypocrisy, and a policy agenda that was either preposterous or dangerous or both. It was the year that he tried (and failed) to repeal ObamaCare. He rescinded DACA by executive action. He pushed through a tax bill that enriched corporations and his wealthy pals to the detriment of everyone else.

And his personnel management was a historical disaster. There was a forty-plus percent turnover in top presidential posts. And just to put a fine point on Trump’s deranged perspective, he had this to say regarding his recent staff shake-up: “I’m really at a point where I’m close to having the Cabinet, and other things, that I want.” He’s been in office for more than a year and he’s just now getting to that point? God help us all if he ever actually gets there.

But leave it to Fox News to sugar-coat Trump’s incompetence. And it didn’t take them an hour to develop this public relations propaganda spiel. Just think what they’ll be saying by this evening when Sean Hannity goes on the air. By then Trump will be heralded as the most brilliant national leader of the millennium. And sadly, way too many glassy-eyed Fox News disciples and Trump cultists will believe it.

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