North Korea? NFL? Oh Wait – Russia Probes Are ‘Closing In’ on Donald Trump

For much of the past week Donald Trump has been tweeting in a frenzy over subjects not previously in the news. He has escalated the debate over professional athletes expressing themselves on matters of significant social importance. And he has also created a crisis situation with North Korea that wasn’t an issue until he starting mouthing off.

Carl Bernstein

Both of those issues are newsworthy on their own now. Certainly the message behind the movement that quarterback Colin Kaepernick started needs to be addressed. Systemic racism in America continues to cause real harm. And Trump’s overtly bigoted contribution has had the unintended effect of getting the issue more positive attention. As for North Korea, Trump’s childish feuding with Kim Jung Un has thrust the world into a rhetorical firestorm. And this one has frightening, nuclear overtones. The media can hardly ignore that.

And that may be the point. Trump is trying to control the news cycle to keep it clear of something that he’s truly afraid of. By injecting new and melodramatic subjects into the media, he hopes to prevent further revelations about his own scandals. To some degree it’s working. But in a segment on CNN’s Reliable Sources host Brian Stelter and famed Watergate journalist Carl Bernstein were not fooled. (Video below):

Stelter: It was reported this week that special counsel Robert Mueller is asking the White House to provide documents related to Trump’s actions as president. Not just pre-campaign or pre-election day, but issues recently. That request includes at least thirteen areas in which investigators are seeking information. Including statements made about former FBI Director James Comey made in the presence of Russian officials. Also the firing of Michael Flynn. And the meeting at Trump Tower with Donald Trump, Jr. As you recall, he sought to get damaging information about Hillary Clinton from a Russian individual.

That introduction covered a broad swath of the potential criminal behaviors emanating from the White House. And Carl Bernstein’s response closed the circle with a concise summary of the President’s unsavory avtivities:

Bernstein: Robert Mueller, the special counsel, is looking at the conduct of President Donald Trump and members of his family, especially Jared Kushner. Also his closest campaign aides in terms of their dealings with Russia, ethno-Russians, during the campaign and before. And in business. But there’s a much larger context that now informs the whole investigation. And that is the conclusion of the American intelligence community – under Donald Trump, not under Obama – that now is certain that the Russians were very, very, effective at undermining the campaign of Hillary Clinton and specifically helping Donald Trump.

And we keep hearing the word collusion, which is not a legal term. What Mueller is focused on is quite different than the simple idea of collusion. It’s whether or not Donald Trump, and perhaps his family and business associates, knew that the Russians were trying to help his campaign. And if they knew that, why didn’t they blow the whistle on the Russians? Did they try to cover it up? Are they continuing to try and cover up that knowledge? That’s the real question. Not the word “collusion,” which Trump and the White House keep trying to focus on.

Finally, Bernstein proposed what might be the motivations driving Trump and his more recent scandal mongering:

Bernstein: But the reason is these investigations are closing in on him, his family, and his aides. And if indeed there’s nothing there and it’s a hoax, then why has Donald Trump tried to undermine, demean and obstruct – not necessarily in terms of the legal obstruction of justice – these investigations for six months at every turn? He’s done everything that he can, as have those around him, to keep these investigations from succeeding.

That pretty much says it all. Trump is engaging in a fierce effort to divert attention from himself and his possible prosecution and/or impeachment. And he’s using other news events, some serious, some fabricated, to achieve that goal. Hopefully more journalists like Bernstein and Stelter will demonstrate that they cannot be tricked into serving as his propaganda merchants.

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

It’s Official: Fox ‘News’ Is Not News And is Allowed to Lie, Says UK Communications Agency

The mission of Fox News from its inception was to advance the agenda of America’s conservatives and the Republican Party. That could not have been more obvious due to its founding by ultra-rightist Rupert Murdoch and GOP media strategist Roger Ailes. The network has spent the last twenty years defaming liberals and Democrats while vigorously supporting right-wing politicians and policies.

Fox News Lies

Much of what Fox News produced brazenly ignored the standards of professional journalism. They aired overtly biased “news” stories that were filled with misrepresentations and outright lies. PolitiFact has rated sixty percent of their their work as “Mostly False,” “False,” or “Pants on Fire.” The other cable news networks don’t even come close to that dubious achievement. This shameful record may have contributed to Fox News being yanked from British television for what they said was lack of viewers.

Now Fox News CEO Rupert Murdoch is trying to acquire the remaining portion of Sky Broadcasting (a European network) that he doesn’t already own. The U.K. has some stringent requirements for approving media deals that will impact the independence of the nation’s journalism. They also review any deal that could put too much power into the hands of a single outlet. On those grounds their Office of Communications (OFCOM) has been investigating Murdoch and his 21st Century Fox corporation.

Unfortunately for Murdoch, concerns about Fox News are stalling, and might kill, the approval process. The network is awash in scandals involving presenters and executives engaging in sexual harassment and related misconduct. They fired their now-deceased CEO Roger Ailes, their top star Bill O’Reilly, host Eric Bolling, among others. That doesn’t look good to the regulatory body considering the acquisition.

And that’s not all. Fox News is also being scrutinized for its reporting and its chumminess with Donald Trump and his administration. Talking Points Memo writes that:

“British authorities have increased scrutiny of the impending deal following several complaints raising concerns that the Fox News parent company is not fit to own Sky News. That scrutiny followed several resignations at Fox News over allegations of sexual harassment, as well as a lawsuit alleging that the network worked with the Trump administration to push a conspiracy theory about a murdered Democratic National Committee staffer.”

The characterization of the personnel matters as “resignations” is overly generous. These slimeballs did not leave voluntarily. But their terminations were also not likely due to Fox having a moral awakening. In fact, it was more likely a self-serving attempt to appease the U.K. regulators by trying to show that they were correcting their problems.

However, the most troubling conclusions coming out of OFCOM’s review were related directly to the editorial content of Fox News. In an ironic twist wherein the agency was actually defending approval, they offered an odd justification for why Fox’s misreporting should not stand in the way:

“In dismissing complaints about certain claims made on Fox News shows, Ofcom determined that ‘Hannity,’ ‘Tucker Carlson Tonight,’ and ‘Fox and Friends’ are not news programs and therefore do not have a ‘due accuracy requirement.'”

To be clear, the agency is making a judgment call that those programs do not qualify as “news.” Consequently, they have no obligation to report factually or even to tell the truth. Anyone who has watched for more than a couple of minutes already knows that those shows have abandoned fact-checking and honesty. And now their flagrantly unethical standards may actually help the company’s acquisition bid. But they would have to accept the argument that they are allowed to lie because they aren’t really news. So far, Fox News has not complained about this characterization of their programming. What does that tell you?

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

How Far Has Fox News Crawled Up Trump’s A$$? They’re Praising Trump’s Deal With Democrats

For anyone who’s still wondering whether or not Fox News is a brazen propaganda outfit devoted to propping up Donald Trump, you can put your doubts to rest. On Thursday morning they demonstrated that they will go to any lengths to praise Dear Leader. Even when he’s violated their most precious principles.

Fox News Trump

The subject of Trump’s agreement on legislation to raise the debt limit and fund relief for Hurricane Harvey came up on Fox and Friends. Republicans were anticipating a bill that would put off further debt limit matters until after next year’s congressional election. Democrats sought a much shorter, three month period. Surprisingly, Trump sided with the Democrats. Some pundits surmised that this was evidence of Trump embracing bipartisanship. But it’s more likely that he was just punishing Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan for their recent failures to advance his agenda.

However, it’s the reaction by the hosts of his favorite TV show that is truly a revelation. There was a time when Fox News could be depended on to push whatever Republican scheme was being peddled. The network’s loyalty was to party over personality. That appears to be a thing of the past. With the election of Donald Trump the Fox News mission seems to have shifted somewhat. They are now committed to the cult of the alleged personality of Trump. The blathering of the Fox and Friends crew made that abundantly clear (video below):

Steve Doocy: The president, not wanting a fight, apparently said, “That’s the deal I’m going to take right now because we’ve got tax reform and other stuff we have got to do right now.”

Ainsley Earhardt: Good for him. He’s doing this for the folks that are affected by [Hurricane] Harvey.

Two things to note here. First, they suddenly think it’s laudatory that Trump is backing down from a fight. Prior to this cave in, they specifically admired his pugilistic tendencies and called everyone else snowflakes. Secondly, the Hurricane Harvey relief efforts were going to be getting these funds regardless. That was not in contention. And then they continued:

Pete Hegseth: Well some conservatives are upset … Big time. But you know what? This is a clear shot at Mitch McConnell and [Paul Ryan: “Hey guys, if you can’t get things done, then, listen, I’ll go work with the Democrats” […]

Hegseth: I think it’s very strategic from this president. Clear out the underbrush of the stuff that could be contentious, that Washington likes to fight about, so you can clear the deck to fight for the stuff that really matters. […]

Earhardt: Isn’t it refreshing to see them work together though? … isn’t that the art of the deal? Isn’t that what they do?

Doocy: It’s the art of the Dems.

“The stuff that really matters?” Apparently they don’t think that hurricane victims, or the full faith and credit of the United States, really matter. Because they just want to get that out of the way. But they are conceding that working with Democrats is the right thing to do. Previously they would have gone into hysterics at the thought of it. They would have branded anyone Republican who did so a RINO (“Republican in Name Only”), and called for his defeat. And don’t even ask what they mean by “art of the Dems.” They probably just thought it sounded cute.

So is this a pivot toward bipartisan cooperation in Congress? Or is it unvarnished idolatry of their presidential messiah? Considering that they still oppose everything that Democrats stand for, it’s hard to see peace breaking out on Capital Hill. Trump, Republicans, and Fox News, still want to kill ObamaCare. They still want to cut taxes for the wealthy. Their commitment to building a border wall is still rock solid (even if the wall/fence isn’t). They remain convinced that climate change is a hoax. They’re almost giddy about deporting DREAMers.

Consequently, the only conclusion is that Fox News is taking this position because it’s the one that Trump has taken. And they don’t want to to seen as disagreeing with Hair Drumpf. Which means that Fox News is determined to be steadfastly faithful to their Chief Oval Officer. And regardless of what diversions he takes from doctrinaire conservatism, they will blindly follow. That’s a recipe for totalitarian disaster.

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

WTF? Fox News is Now Making (Lie-Riddled) Campaign Ads For Donald Trump (VIDEO)

One of the most neglected observations about Donald Trump’s presidency is that he never wanted to be president. His stage-five narcissism and bloated ego has always found campaigning to be more to his liking. He feeds off of the mindless cheers of his glassy-eyed disciples. In his bubble-bunker he imagines (falsely) that they reflect the views of the whole country.

Fox News Trump Ad

For that reason Trump commenced his reelection campaign moments after completing his poorly attended inauguration address. It was an earlier start than any other president. And it was plain that he did it to justify holding more rallies before screaming Deplorables.

Now, in support of Trump’s reelection efforts, Fox News has stepped forward to do their part. This isn’t the typical Trump-fluffing that goes on everyday on the pro-Trump network. Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson, and the “Curvy Couch” potatoes on Fox and Friends, were always expected to slobber over everything Trump does and says. No, this is something else that goes way beyond the mere contemptibility of biased journalism.

Fox News posted a video that can only be described as a campaign ad for Donald Trump. It is filled with positive imagery and clips of the President advocating American labor and goods. It even attributes laudable policies to Trump that have no factual basis. Watch for yourself:

Some of the statements in this brazenly partisan propaganda deserve more detailed analysis. For instance:

  • “President Trump has made Job creation a central focus of his administration.”
  • Where is the evidence of that? He has talked about it from time to time, but has done nothing substantive about it. His bragging about bringing jobs back from other countries has turned out to be a hoax. The companies he touted still laid off Americans and shipped those jobs elsewhere. He hasn’t even managed to get an infrastructure bill off the ground. The border wall is the only project he proposed that might create a few jobs, and the country is opposed to that.

  • “When signing the Buy American, Hire American executive order, Trump said ‘The policy of our government is to aggressively promote and use American made goods.'”
  • This order has no plans attached to it to produce anything at all. It doesn’t require any action on the part of employers or manufacturers. And if Trump were really interested in hiring Americans, he could start by hiring them to staff his luxury golf resorts. He might also consider having his ties, suits, etc. made in the U.S. instead of China, Mexico, and Bangladesh.

  • “We are building our future with American hands, American labor, American iron, aluminum, and steel.”
  • Not in Trump’s world we aren’t. He has illegally employed foreign construction workers on his buildings. He uses steel shipped in from China. And even the furnishings inside are mostly made in other countries.

Revelations about Trump lying have become so commonplace that people are beginning to tune it out. But what’s troubling about this video from Fox News isn’t just the bald-faced lies. It is that Fox News has no business producing campaign videos for any candidate for office. It is blatantly improper for an alleged “news” organization and a breach of journalistic ethics. It should be reported to the Federal Elections Commission as an in-kind contribution to Trump’s campaign. And the network should be fined and explicitly prohibited from further breaches.

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

However, it may be too much to expect the FEC to act on this. It is a notoriously toothless agency. So Fox may get away with their electioneering for now. But the more the public knows about this violation of trust, the more they will shun the network and its cast of Trump shills. That’s already happening as MSNBC, on the strength of Rachel Maddow’s superb investigative reporting, has surpassed Fox in the ratings. Rupert Murdoch recently took his own Fox News off the air in the U.K. citing lack of viewers. Let’s make him do the same here at home.

Trump’s Favorite Fox News Show, and Top Advisor, Implores Him to ‘Shut the Government Down’

The New York Times recently spoke with several Trump administration insiders who expressed some concern about their boss. They characterized him as stubbornly devoted to Fox News which they described as his “primary source of information.” That observation was not a surprise to most Trump watchers, but it was a rare admission from those in his inner circle.

Fox News Pete Hegseth

Without a doubt, Donald Trump’s favorite TV show is Fox and Friends. He religiously views the morning program with the three “Curvy Couch” potatoes staunchly defending the his every utterance and action. He has re-tweeted them at least 120 times since his campaign began. And there are numerous examples of him making comments about something that had aired on the program minutes before.

Consequently, whenever someone on Fox News issues opinions or offers political guidance, it must be closely examined. After all, the President regards it as at least as credible any other Oval Office counsel he might receive. Trump often gives more consideration to advice he gets from Fox News than what he gets from his intelligence professionals. So what Fox and Friends co-host Pete Hegseth said Monday morning should be noted. He appeared on Fox’s Outnumbered to discuss Trump’s options for fulfilling his campaign promise to build a wall on the border with Mexico:

“You gotta build the wall. This is so central to why he ran, who he is, why his supporters love him, and to his candidacy from day one.” […] “But shut the government down. Shut it down if you can’t get the central campaign promise done. I think from the view of the people that got him elected, they expect it to happen. And how long will the establishment Republicans – and Democrats would obstruct no matter what – obstruct everything he wants to do?”

First of all, the people that got Trump elected were most likely based in Moscow. But even a more generous analysis requires acknowledging that his electors were a minority of the voters. What’s more, even among Republicans, the border wall is not popular. It was merely the hypnotic chant of the fevered disciples at his campaign rallies. But they are in no way representative of the broader GOP. They may share much of the same right-wing agenda, but the StormTrumpers are certifiably nuts.

More to the point, Hegseth’s fatally flawed punditry asserts that the wall must be built because Trump promised to build it. Not because it would effectively reduce illegal immigration or drug trafficking or crime. It wouldn’t. But because Hegseth believes that fulfilling his campaign promises is more important than doing what the voters want. And if shutting down the government is necessary to secure funding for the wall, down it goes. Along with millions of Social Security checks, national parks access, hurricane relief, and many other vital government services.

Tens of thousands of Americans would be thrown out of work. That would result in additional government expenses and loss of federal income tax revenue. The last time the government was shutdown it cost the federal government $24 billion. And the same polls that show the unpopularity of the wall also show that Americans oppose a shutdown.

So Hegseth’s rant about shutting down the government is both expensive and unpopular. But he thinks it should be done anyway. And for reasons that are based on politics rather than what’s in the best interests of the people. He was kind enough to mention the victims of Hurricane Harvey. But only as an aside that reduced the tragedy to “the complications with what happened in Houston.”

As ludicrous as his unqualified opinions are, they are still held in high regard by one very special member of the TV audience. Donald Trump was surely watching, and he very likely considers what he heard as justification for shutting down the government. That puts the whole country at the mercy of the twerps on Fox and Friends. And if that doesn’t frighten you, I can’t imagine what will.

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

GIGO: White House Aides Reveal That Fox News is Trump’s ‘Primary Source of Information’

A story in Friday’s New York Times affirms something that has been well known to observant White House watchers. Donald Trump relies on a frighteningly narrow range of media outlets to provide him with critical information. He dwells in a bubble of exclusively right-wing propaganda that is nothing more than a shill factory for fact-challenged “news.” And when he isn’t fed the pablum he craves, he becomes inconsolably livid.

Fox News Donald Trump

The Times interviewed numerous insiders about Trump and his relationship with newly installed chief-of-staff, John Kelly. The former general has been trying to impose some order amid the chaos of Trump’s Oval Office party. By all accounts, that has been a difficult job. Trump is described as resistant to any attempt to “manage” him. The Times writes that:

“While Mr. Kelly has quickly brought some order to a disorganized and demoralized staff, he is fully aware of the president’s volcanic resentment about being managed, according to a dozen people close to Mr. Trump, and has treaded gingerly through the minefield of Mr. Trump’s psyche. But the president has still bridled at what he perceives as being told what to do.”

The notion of a president who is so unstable that aides need to tiptoe through his fragile psyche is disturbing. And it isn’t just Kelly who is troubled by this. Sixty percent of the American people regard Trump as “unstable” to various degrees. That’s according to a poll by Fox News.

And speaking of Fox News – – That’s the media outlet that Trump’s aides have described as his “primary source of information.” Kelly has reportedly had some success at curbing Trump’s exposure to the panoply of wingnut rags. But there are limits to how much Trump can be restrained. The Times reports that:

“Mr. Kelly cannot stop Mr. Trump from binge-watching Fox News, which aides describe as the president’s primary source of information gathering.

There is abundant evidence that Trump watches Fox News for hours on end. Many of his his tweets are obviously reactions to something he just saw on Fox. He refers to Fox News more often, and with more confidence, than he does his own intelligence agencies. And most of the time he cites his favorite program, Fox and Friends. This can explain in part why so much of what Trump says is so embarrassingly wrong. Garbage in, Garbage out (GIGO).

In addition to Trump’s addiction to Fox News, he has recently been suffering through a propaganda withdrawal of sorts. Kelly’s management of the White House has resulted in some of Trump’s closest aides being kept at arms length. The people who provided him with his daily dose of conspiracy theories and rabidly partisan screeds are being shut out. A friend of Trump told the Times that he “plaintively asked” where his fix of stories from The Daily Caller and Breitbart News were. And an article in the Daily Beast more specifically noted that:

“Kelly has taken steps to prevent [Omarosa Manigault] and other senior staffers from getting unvetted news articles on the president’s Resolute desk.” […Articles that…] “would often enrage the president, and resulted in him spending at least the rest of the day fuming about it.” “

Unfortunately, Kelly cannot prevent Trump from diving into the right-wing media swamp. While the door to the Oval Office is more closely watched, Trump still has his phone. And he uses it to contact those whose White House privileges have been curtailed. So the President is still being influenced by the same cadre of nutcases and sleazeballs as before Kelly. And the results will be the same as Trump gorges himself on Fox News lies and curses at the rest of the press corps. It’s a presidency that is seriously off track and driven by biased pundits and fake news. How long will Kelly tolerate this circus atmosphere that is harming the country?

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

Is America Next? Fox News Booted Off the Air in the U.K. for Lack of Viewers

We have good reason to celebrate the intelligence and common sense of our friends in Britain. They have been suffering from Donald Trump’s reign from afar and have not been especially pleased. London’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, asked him not to visit. Massive protests were being organized to greet him should he come. And last June Trump himself told Prime Minister Theresa May that he wouldn’t come at all until she could promise a warm welcome. The fact that he still hasn’t been there should tell you something.

Fox NOT News

Now it’s being reported that the PR division of the Trump administration, Fox News, has been dumped in the U.K. The Guardian published the report Tuesday morning and Fox News confirmed it:

“[Fox] has decided to cease providing a feed of Fox News Channel in the UK,” said a spokeswoman for the company. “Fox News is focused on the US market and designed for a US audience and, accordingly, it averages only a few thousand viewers across the day in the UK. We have concluded that it is not in our commercial interest to continue providing Fox News in the UK.”

The failure of Fox News abroad is not as trivial a matter as they seek to make it. England is a nation that is closely aligned with the U.S. and deeply concerned about our policies and politics. The dearth of viewers has nothing to do with the “focus” of the network. The Brits are more likely repulsed by the obvious bias and propaganda. They have many other news sources, including several from the U.S., to find out what America is up to. CNN isn’t having any trouble attracting a British audience.

What’s more, Fox’s excuse that their programming is America-centric is an admission that it isn’t actually news. Honest journalism is the collection and reporting of facts that reflect reality. It is not impacted by geography. Reports on the war in Afghanistan, a hurricane in Texas, or trade relations with the EU, should be identical regardless of the place of publication. But Fox’s programs are littered with an extraneous spin that reeks of American superiority. How could anyone in Liverpool or Dublin listen to two minutes of Sean Hannity or Tucker Carlson without retching?

Fox News may have another reason for ditching their British flank. Fox’s chairman, Rupert Murdoch, has been trying to acquire the sixty percent of Sky Broadcasting that they don’t already own. But there are regulators in the UK that have to approve the deal. At present it is under investigation by Ofcom to ascertain whether they meet broadcasting standards. And there is some question as to how that will come out. The Guardian reports that:

“In the past decade, Fox has notched up 22 breaches of its licence and Ofcom’s codes and rules. Of those, seven were against Fox News, with four last year including against a programme which featured a guest who said that Birmingham was a city ‘where non-Muslims just simply don’t go’.”

Add to that the hacking scandal a few years back where Murdoch’s newspapers were found to have illegally accessed the emails and cell phones of politicians, celebrities, and even a murdered schoolgirl. It’s that sort of behavior that caused Murdoch to temporarily suspend his acquisition aspirations. But he is now actively pursuing the matter again.

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

Having a “news” network that is notorious for lying and disparaging foreign nations, while disseminating White House propaganda, cannot be particularly helpful when trying to persuade British regulators to give it even more power. In the meantime, the UK will enjoy the relief of not having Fox News polluting their airwaves and insulting their viewers. America awaits its opportunity to enjoy such relief.

Watch Fox News Try to Smear Democrats By Turning Antifa Into the ‘New’ New Black Panthers

The Fox News propagandists have been fiercely battling the flood of bad news for Donald Trump and the Republican Party. Lately there has been more than the usual onslaught of lies and ignorance. Consequently, they have escalated their use of a hollow tactic that has come to be known as “Whataboutism.” So anytime someone brings up something negative about Trump or the GOP, Fox News responds with “What about this other thing?” It’s a means of avoiding a coherent defense when you obviously don’t have one.

Fox News

That strategy was in full force Monday morning when Fox News hosted a couple of pundits to discuss violent protests. The premise put forth by Fox was that “leftists” were not being sufficiently condemned for their acts of violence. The main reason for that is that leftists have not been engaging in any organized violent activities. What Fox News tried to pin on Democrats was behavior by the shadowy and leaderless group of anti-fascists known as Antifa. (See video below).

But here’s the problem with that. Antifa is not a Democratic movement. They do not campaign for Democrats. They do not vote for Democrats. None of them run for office as Democrats. And actual Democrats do not appear at their events. On the other hand, the alt-right, white nationalist, KKK crowd are tightly bound to Republicans. They openly campaign for GOP candidates and celebrate their electoral victories. Particularly that of Donald Trump. They feature GOP representatives at their rallies. And they have even run for office as Republicans.

It is entirely appropriate to expect a group of pro-Republican extremists to be renounced by the Republican Party. And when Trump failed to do so after the Charlottesville tragedy, he was effectively welcoming their support. However, Democrats cannot be expected to distance themselves from a group that they are in no way affiliated with. They can renounce violence broadly, and they have done so repeatedly. But they aren’t responsible for a group that isn’t among their supporters.

The efforts by Fox News to falsely tie Antifa to Democrats is reminiscent of their prior attempts to do the same with the ludicrous New Black Panthers. That was a group that may have had no more than four members, but Fox News built them up into a national terrorist enterprise. It was largely Megyn Kelly who focused on this nonsense. But now many hosts, contributors, and guests on Fox are pounding the Antifa drums.

This morning’s segment was a perfect example. Anchor Sandra Smith began by alluding to “Violence breaking out as thousands of left and right protesters descending on Berkeley.” The alt-right protesters were referred to as peaceful, but their motives were exposed simply by where they chose to protest. They knew that Berkeley would not be an especially welcoming locale. They were inviting counter-protests. But Fox’s Republican pundit, Lisa Boothe, immediately went on the attack against Democrats.

Boothe: I think we’re just seeing a lot of violence and a lot of hate in this country, and we have for a number of years recently. We saw it with the violence in Fergusson and Baltimore, where people are getting way out of hand. And I think what we really need to see is people marginalizing some of these hate groups. […] Unfortunately, we’re not seeing that same rebuke of groups like Antifa. I’ve not seen one Democratic leader say that these groups should stop their ways, should stop what we saw in Berkeley. Where is Congresswoman Barbara Lee who represents the thirteenth district of California? Where is former Speaker Nancy Pelosi?

Boothe completely avoided the alt-right’s record of violence and murder to blame Democrats for not denouncing a tiny fringe group that they have nothing to do with. The group would already be marginalized were it not for the publicity they get on Fox News. And contrary to Boothe’s tunnel-blind assessment, Democrats have condemned all violence of the sort that Boothe is addressing. The Democrat on the segment, Christie Setzer, had some trouble getting in her comments.

Setzer: I was just as horrified as most people by what transpired in Charlottesville. And I was equally inspired by what happened in Boston. Which is to say that there was a small number of neo-Nazi, KKK, and other hate groups who were calling themselves a free speech rally, but in fact were organized by a lot of the same people who were in charlottesville. And they were surrounded by 40,000 peace-loving, good Bostonians saying ‘We will not accept hate in our city, in our town, in our country.’

Setzer attempted to continue her remarks to insist that “We don’t want violent protests anywhere.” But Smith interrupted her saying that she “wanted Lisa to have the last word.” Never mind that Boothe had the first word and much longer uninterrupted time. Boothe used her conclusion to say that “We’ve seen the media prop up groups like Antifa.” Then complained again that Democrats had not denounced them, even though Setzer just did.

Boothe’s last comment, however, was true. It is the media that has propped up Antifa. Primarily the conservative media. They need it to deploy their Whataboutism tactic whenever there is violence from the alt-right supporters of the GOP. Some members of Antifa may be well-meaning anti-fascists, and who can argue with that? But the faction within the group that advocates violence is counterproductive to their own goals. That said, they still have no affiliation with the Democratic Party and it is dishonest for Fox News to make that linkage. But being dishonest has never stopped Fox before from disseminating lies in support of the Republican agenda. So we can expect this promotion and hyperbole about Antifa to continue until Fox News finds some even newer fake movement to promote.

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

STILL CRAZY: Trump Is ‘Stone Cold Sane’ According To This Fox News ‘Psycho’ Analyst

This week Fox News thought it would be a good idea to repost a six month old article by their resident “psycho” analyst, Keith Ablow. In it he asserted some ludicrous reasons to dismiss critics of Donald Trump who questioned his mental health. Trump’s sanity has only become more suspect as time has gone by.

Fox News Keith Ablow

The decision by Fox News to rerun this pathetic Trump-fluffing is difficult to understand. It made no sense at the time, and is even more embarrassing now. Nevertheless, it does provide a good opportunity for News Corpse to reprise its response to Ablow’s original posting. So here it is in its entirety:

ABLOW SAY RELAX: Trump Is ‘Stone Cold Sane’ According To This Fox News ‘Psycho’ Analyst

In recent weeks there have been several reports characterizing the mental stability of President Donald Trump. Some of these have been partisan assessments by political opponents. Others have been more detailed warnings from mental health professionals about his “malignant narcissism”. There have even been bipartisan bills drafted to mandate a White House psychiatrist. However, “Doctor” Keith Ablow, a member of the Fox News Medical A-Team, has his own professional diagnosis that comes to a different conclusion. He believes that Trump is as sane as you and I. But the reasons he gives are – well – batshit crazy.

Ablow starts off with a disclaimer that he has never examined Trump. It is considered unethical for doctors to make diagnoses of people who have never personally been under their care. Funny, Ablow never bothered to offer that disclaimer when he was unethically (and absurdly) diagnosing President Obama. What follows is a rundown from his latest article for Fox News. In it Ablow says Trump is totally sane because:

He’s rich and famous:

“When a man acquires billions of dollars through complex real estate transactions, invests in many countries, goes on to phenomenal success in television and turns his name into a worldwide brand, it is very unlikely that he is mentally unstable.”

Of course. Everyone knows there aren’t any wealthy business people with mental illness. They can just buy some new sanity if they lose theirs. Rich people are always perfect in body, mind, and bank account. Take Howard Hughes for example.

He’s a good family man:

“When the same man obviously enjoys the love and respect of his children and his wife, who seem to rely on him for support and guidance, it is extraordinarily unlikely that he is mentally unstable.”

Indeed. And Trump is so stable that he’s currently on his third wife. And each of his marriages have been marred by flagrant and public infidelities. Plus, his current wife and their child rely on him so much for support that they declined to live with him in the White House.

He’s a political wrecking crew:

“When the same man walks into the political arena and deftly defeats 16 Republican opponents and then the Democratic heir-apparent to a two-term president’s administration, the odds of that man being mentally unstable become vanishingly thin.”

Because nothing says mental stability like viciously maligning your own party colleagues with childish nicknames and outlandish allegations. Just ask Lyin’ Ted Cruz whose father worked with JFK assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald.

He’s a bureaucrat magnet:

“And when that very same man attracts to his team the kind of intellect and gravitas represented (to name just a few) by Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Dr. Ben Carson, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Defense James Mattis, a retired Marine Corps general and commander of the U.S. Central Command, he cannot be mentally deranged. Period. It is a statistical impossibility.”

That’s right. After all, who ever heard of someone accepting a lucrative and powerful government job when offered one? That’s especially true of unqualified nominees like Carson, Rick Perry, and Betsy Devos. And the billionaire, Goldman Sachs, swamp dwellers have their own selfish reasons.

But perhaps the most profoundly absurd defense of Trump’s sanity was Ablow’s personal testimonial and endorsement of Trump branded products and services:

He’s a walking infomercial

“Anecdotally, by the way, I have never had one bad Trump experience. Not one. I own several of his ties — all of them of the highest quality. I have stayed in his hotels and never had a single complaint (and I am a born complainer). I have eaten in his New York restaurant — flawless service, excellent food. I own an apartment at Trump Place in Manhattan. Impeccable design, sturdy construction, fabulous amenities. A mentally unstable man would be unlikely to deliver superior products across multiple industries, don’t you think?”

Seriously? Ablow thinks that Trump is the picture of sanity because ties manufactured in China, but branded with his name, meet his standards as a consumer. Similarly, Ablow’s Trump Place condo is in a building that the Trump Organization developed but does not own. And does any sane person think that Trump is responsible for the food and service at a restaurant with his name plastered on the front?

Ablow went on to suggest that the performance of the stock market is another indication of Trump’s mental health. Sure, it’s up about 2,000 points since the election. It’s notable that none of Trump’s fiscal policies have been implemented in that time. Nor would it reflect on his sanity if they were. However, since he’s handing out credit, Obama must be super-sane, because the market rose 12,000 points during his presidency. Except that, as noted above, Ablow has already diagnosed Obama as mentally challenged. Nevertheless, it’s clear that the markets are still running on the economic policies of the Obama administration.

And if it weren’t enough for Ablow to construct a preposterous case for Trump’s mental health, he also had to portray his critics as mental deficients. He called anyone who questioned Trump’s psychological status “political opportunists, or fools, or both.” Then he singled out Sen. Al Franken as an example. Specifically, he called Franken’s sanity into question because Franken and Elizabeth Warren are allies and Warren once said she had Native American ancestry. First of all, she only said that because that’s what her parents told her. Having never bothered to fact-check her parents doesn’t make her nuts. But regardless, how would that reflect on Franken? Ablow’s psychological prognosis implies that anyone affiliated with Warren is crazy.

Ablow closes by saying “And they’re calling Trump’s sanity into question? Really, you can’t make this stuff up.” Wrong again. Ablow just proved that you can make up whatever the hell you want and Fox News will publish it. After all, this is the same guy who wrote that Donald Trump’s narcissism is exactly what America needs. And my personal favorite, his treatise praising the Unabomber. Now that certifies him as a perfectly sane psychiatrist, don’t you think?

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

Kellyanne Conway on Fox News Complains That the Media Isn’t ‘Afraid Enough’ of Donald Trump

The Queen of Alternative Facts, Kellyanne Conway, has been absent from the public eye for a while. But now she has returned to make an appearance on Fox News (of course). And she didn’t disappoint in the delivery of her unique brand of shilling for her boss, Donald Trump.

Kellyanne Conway

Conway was interviewed on Trump’s favorite TV show Fox and Friends (video below). The President has called it “the most honest show on television.” And it’s clear as to why he holds that opinion. They will lie relentlessly for him no matter the subject. And it’s why White House spokespersons appear almost exclusively on Fox News. They know they can get away with saying anything and not be subject to any challenge or criticism. For instance, Conway started right out of the gate slamming the media:

“There’s a huge disconnect between what the media are telling Americans what is important to them and what Americans are telling your pollsters and their pollsters and all of us what is important to them.”

That makes literally zero sense. What the media is telling Americans about what is important comes directly from the the pollsters. And virtually every poll shows Trump floundering personally, and his agenda in tatters. Undeterred, Conway continues:

“I think the media are obsessed with style. I saw a poll this morning. Forty-seven percent of Americans say the media are trying to impede the President’s progress on the agenda as opposed to just report the facts. And Gerry Baker at the Wall Street Journal just yesterday came out and said ‘Listen, you’ve gotta cover this as reporters. This has become opinion commentary disguised at reporting.’ Particularly when the President mentions the media.”

First of all, the poll Conway is referring to is by Rasmussen Reports, an unabashedly biased firm that spins everything to the far right. Secondly, Conway citing the editor-in-chief of Rupert Murdoch’s flagship newspaper as a source of factual reporting is ludicrous. Especially because the quote she highlighted came from an email that has angered the Journal’s staff. Some were so upset that they turned to CNN to vent their frustration:

“At the time, some staffers told CNNMoney they believed that Baker was going out of his way to be deferential to Trump in order to maintain access to the White House and proximity to power. Staffers also chafe at Baker’s insistence on conducting the interviews with Trump himself, rather than letting the paper’s journalists take the lead.”

When reporters at a conservative paper accuse their editorial peers of being “deferential to Trump” you have a real problem. Many have them long demonstrated such deference, but apparently this editor has gone too far, even for the Journal. And they are also disturbed by his habit of usurping their duties when it comes to presidential interviews.

But Conway was only beginning to hit her stride. Answering a question that didn’t involve the media, Conway found a way to resume her attack on the free press. Co-host Steve Doocy’s raised the comments of former Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, with regard to Trump’s mental stability. On CNN Clapper described Trump’s condition as “downright scary and disturbing.” And he asked how much longer the country would have to “endure this nightmare.” And Conway replied (skip to 7:50 in the video):

Doocy: A couple nights ago on television, [Clapper] said he wondered whether or not the president was fit to be president, fit to serve. If James Clapper is watching right now, what’s your message to him?

Conway: It’s such an absurd analysis, playing armchair psychiatrist. It’s not just him. It’s a lot of people on TV.

I’m old enough to remember when news stations reported the news and didn’t just have a parade of pundits going out there and opinionating and rendering their opinions and pontificating and conjecturing. And I think it leads to analysis like this, because people end up with very little to say. They are not compelled. They are not forced. Nobody demands that they actually report facts and figures. This is way over the line. You know, the media and other opinion figures, they were way too afraid of President Obama and his administration. They’re not afraid enough here.

It’s jaw-droppingly hysterical that Conway is complaining about pundits “opinionating” to the propagandists at Fox News. The “Curvy Couch” potatoes of Fox and Friends trail only Sean Hannity as Fox’s premiere Trump-fluffers.

More importantly, Conway is actually advocating for some kind of government control of the press. Her notion that journalists should be “forced” to report her alternative facts is contrary to the tenets of the Constitution. She and her White House cohorts are not the arbiters of what is real or fake news. And if America wants state-sponsored reporting, they already have Fox News.

Furthermore, the media should never be afraid of any president, and no president should deliberately intimidate the press. But that’s exactly what Trump has been doing. He is not merely offering criticism. His childish taunts that reporters are sick, dishonest, and bad people who hate America, amounts to overt threats. They could easily lead to violence against journalists who are just doing their job.

When Trump called the media “the enemy of the American people,” he effectively gave permission to his crackpot disciples to take the necessary action to defend the country from its “enemies.” Hopefully Conway and Trump will not get their wish to make the media afraid of Trump. And hopefully nobody gets hurt.

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