Trump Admin is Misusing Funds for ObamaCare on Efforts to Sabotage It

For much of his still nascent administration, Donald Trump has sought to portray the Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare) as dead. It is more of a negative branding campaign than anything connected to facts or reality. The American people have expressed their support for ObamaCare in numerous polls. But Trump is determined to destroy it while promoting his extraordinarily unpopular attempt at repeal and replace.

Donald Trump

The Daily Beast is now reporting that the Trump administration has been misdirecting funds intended to encourage enrollment in ObamaCare. Instead, they have been using it in “a public relations campaign aimed at methodically strangling it.” That violates both the ACA’s legal mandate and the President’s constitutional duty to “faithfully execute the laws of the land.” According to The Daily Beast:

“The strategy has caught the eye of legal experts and Democrats in Congress, who have asked government agencies to investigate whether the administration has misused funds and engaged in covert propaganda in its efforts to damage and overturn the seven-year-old health care law. It’s also roiled Obama administration veterans, who argue that the current White House is not only abdicating its responsibilities to administer the law but sabotaging it in an effort to facilitate its undoing by Congress.”

The Health and Human Services department, under healthcare opposing Trump appointee Tom Price, has been busily producing anti-ObamaCare videos. The videos feature alleged “victims” of ObamaCare. It’s a blatantly one-sided propaganda venture that ignores the millions of people the ACA has helped. And the taxpayer funds diverted to it are substantial, despite its twisted purpose and ineffectiveness:

“Under Secretary Tom Price’s stewardship, HHS has filmed and produced a series of testimonial videos featuring individuals claiming to have been harmed by Obamacare. Those ”viral’ videos have had decidedly limited reach, often gathering somewhere between 100 and 200 views each. But the Department has made a heavy investment in them nonetheless. To date, it has released 23 videos. A source familiar with the video production says that there have been nearly 30 interviews conducted in total, from which more than 130 videos have been produced.”

The funds for this project are coming from the HHS’s Consumer Information and Outreach budget. It’s appalling that the administration would divert money intended to help people get insurance to a campaign of deliberate sabotage. They are taking money allocated to advance a healthy populace, and using it to steer people away from healthcare choices that are legally available to them. In effect, they may be guiding people away from necessary medical attention that could result in tragedy.

This isn’t the first attempt by the Trump administration to make America sick again. Trump has been making thinly veiled threats about discontinuing the cost-sharing reductions (subsidies) that make insurance affordable for millions. That would also throw the insurance markets into a state of instability that could threatened future participation. And they have made changes to the websites for HHS and Healthcare.gov that are unambiguously hostile to consumers seeking information about ObamaCare. Earlier this year the White House halted all advertising and promotions to encourage last minute enrollments for 2017 coverage. That was a sinister attempt to keep the public uninformed and enrollment numbers down.

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

In the end, all of this is nothing more than the fulfillment of the Republican dream: deprive Americans of healthcare and reward the wealthy with tax cuts. Although they obviously don’t like ObamaCare, it is the current law of the land. And the agency tasked with administering it ought not be working to kill it. If they could pass their repeal (which it appears they cannot), things might be different. In the meantime, all they are doing is cynically and selfishly playing politics with people’s lives.

Dumbfu*ks at Fox News Want to Know: What’s a Bigger Threat to America: Fake News or Russia?

The fair and balanced couch dwellers at Fox and Friends are suddenly very concerned about threats to America. Not the ones posed by hostile foreign adversaries disrupting our elections and hacking our politicians and candidates. Nor the ones saber-rattling about war with a crackpot dictator in North Korea. And certainly not the one that puts the entire planet at risk of becoming uninhabitable.

Fox News Dennis Prager

Nope. What Fox News is worried about is whether what they call “fake news” has surpassed Vladimir Putin’s Russia as an imminent threat to the United States. Bear in mind that the issue that’s throwing Fox News into a tizzy is actually real news reporting of Donald Trump and his crime family’s collusion with Russia. But just the suggestion that Trump is anything less than divinely pure qualifies as fakery to Fox.

In Monday morning’s episode of Fox and Friends, host Steve Doocy introduced a segment with sanctimonious radio talker Dennis Prager. He pretends to be a paragon of virtue and mentor to all of us inferior heathens. Prager tweeted his opinion that the media is America’s preeminent enemy.

And that led to Fox’s featured segment on the subject (video below):

Doocy: What’s a bigger threat to America: Fake news or Russia?

Prager: This may sound odd to you and many of the viewers. I don’t understand why this tweet is controversial. Putin does not threaten Western civilization. Western civilization is a set of ideas and values. When students remove the American flag from their campuses, that’s not Putin. All of the things happening in the West to undo Western civilization have nothing to do with Putin. The only thing I regret about the tweet is that I didn’t write that the universities and the media in the West are a greater threat to Western civilization.

I have to agree with Prager’s first point. It definitely sounds odd. Prager is making some sort of vague differentiation between Western civilization and the government and political institutions that uphold it. His babbling about our ideas and values being separate from Putin’s election tampering is pure gibberish. And yet he thinks that a cloth flag is a more tangible part of what makes America than democracy.

Prager went on to complain that “Half of American millennials think socialism is preferable to capitalism. That’s a result of the media and the universities.” It’s also the result of critical thinking and independent analysis. For one thing, socialism and capitalism are not mutually exclusive. In fact, the United States is a working example of a hybrid of the two concepts. Social Security and public education have not hampered the economic success of Ford, Starbucks, or Amazon.

Finally, Prager whined that “The media have gone from news media to opinion media in the guise of news. That is extremely dangerous.” I can’t argue with that. But the irony is that he said it on Fox News – the indisputable champion of blatantly biased pseudo-journalism. Fox News practically invented the modern practice of opinion media. And, in closing, I’ll agree with Prager again. Fox News is extremely dangerous.

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

NIXON? REALLY? Geraldo Rivera Gushes an INSANE Defense of Trump and Praise for Fox News

It must be awfully hard to be a Fox News shill these days. The still flowing flood of incriminating evidence against Donald Trump and his sleazy family is nearly impossible to justify. The contortions that Fox News hosts and pundits have to employ seem painful in the extreme. Some of them aren’t even trying anymore.

Geraldo Rivera

That, however, is not the case with the crew at Fox and Friends, and their Saturday morning guest, Geraldo Rivera (video below). In a discussion about Don Trump, Jr.’s meeting with Russian operatives, the “Curvy Couch” potatoes crawled all over themselves trying to defend the indefensible. Eventually they wound up where they often do – blaming the media.

For his part, Geraldo Rivera set up his remarks by reminding everyone that the Trumps were close, personal friends. He restated his “tremendous respect and admiration” for them. Then he gently chided them for what he characterized as minor goofs. Rivera described the meetings with Russian government operatives promising dirt on Hillary Clinton as “understandable,” but “not criminal.” Legal experts disagree. He did manage some criticism of Don, Jr. for his “dissembling” otherwise known as lying.

And then Rivera went flying headfirst off the tracks. Co-host Abby Huntsman asked a typically asinine question. She wondered whether the media was to blame for the troubles Don, Jr. was undergoing. Because of course it was the media’s fault that Donnie met with unsavory Russians and then lied about it repeatedly. But Rivera’s historical analog to this affair was the presidency of Richard Nixon. His take on it was pure lunacy:

“During the years of Tricky Dick Nixon, 1972 and 1973 principally. If there had been a Fox News then, if there had been a Sean Hannity then, I do not believe President Nixon would ever have been forced to resign. Why do I say that? Because when you see how his story evolves, and he has no one to defend him, how everybody’s deserted him, no on got the other side of the story. So that rinky-dink burglary then metastasized into the cover up, which led to the tumult, the nuclear explosions in the administration, and finally the resignation of the President.”

“I think if we had Sean then, if we had Fox and Friends then, I think that President Nixon would have weathered that storm. Now, I think that President Trump will likewise weather the storm, but I think that it will cause amazing stresses.”

So Rivera blames the downfall of Nixon on the absence of defenders in the media. Not on the fact that he presided over an illegal break-in of the Democratic campaign office. Not on the threats and bribes and lies that marked the cover up. Rivera thinks there was another side to the story of Nixon’s corruption that wasn’t being told. You know, the good side of the corruption.

But the best part of this cognitive meltdown is Rivera’s accidental admission that Fox News is nothing more than an alibi generator for crooked Republicans. He’s saying that despite the obvious crimes, Nixon might have survived if he had Fox News to lie for him. Nixon’s problem wasn’t that he broke the law, violated his oath of office, and had no discernible ethics. It was that he didn’t have someone like Sean Hannity to fabricate excuses and point fingers at innocent bystanders.

By extension, that’s the role that Rivera is admitting that Fox News plays now. They are deliberately denying reality and replacing it with manufactured falsehoods. They are covering for Trump and serving up other sides to the story of his corruption. And they are accusing others (Obama, Clinton, etc.) of crimes without any evidence whatsoever. It’s a strategy of deceive and deflect. And, as with Nixon, despite the obvious crimes, the goal is for Trump et al to skate free. Of course, many observers have already known this about Fox News for years. But it is helpful when one of their top correspondents is dumb enough it out loud on the air.

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

What Did Fox News Know About Trump, Jr.’s Russia Collusion, and When Did They Join It?

Much to the chagrin of Donald Trump, the media is still tightly focused on the question of his unsavory connections to Russia. The latest news centers around the activities of his son, Don, Jr. The younger Trump’s ill-advised meeting with a Russian lawyer in an attempt to score dirt on Hillary Clinton has created a tsunami of controversy.

Rupert Murdoch Donald Trump

While many observers ponder the legal jeopardy that Trump faces, others are consumed by the stark foolishness of the affair. Capping the series of unfortunate events was the release of the emails detailing the meeting’s agenda. They explicitly state the purpose as an exchange of information from the Russian government to the Trump campaign.

Some of the reporting has noticed the timeline that sheds light on certain activities that previously seemed unrelated. For instance, Donald Trump’s June 7, 2016 announcement that he would soon give a “major” speech about Hillary Clinton’s alleged criminality. That announcement came just four days after his son’s email exchange with the contact that set up the meeting. It was also just two days prior to the meeting itself. Did Trump get a head’s up about some detrimental data on Clinton that was about be acquired?

The meeting took place on June 9. That was also the day that Trump first tweeted about Clinton’s 33,000 emails that were allegedly deleted? He subsequently returned to that talking point frequently, even soliciting the Russians to hack and reveal the emails.

The promised speech took place on June 13, but not on the promised subject. That could be because no useful information was received at Don Jr.’s meeting. That would jibe with his assertion that his source failed to come through. However, it could also be because the information was so highly charged that they decided to roll it out strategically. Which would square with what occurred a few weeks later. It was on July 24 that the first emails that were hacked from the Democratic National Committee were made public. That release via Wikileaks was closely tied to Russian hackers.

However, there is a another event in the same timeline that hasn’t gotten any attention. On July 25, the day after the DNC hacks came out, Donald Trump himself had a significant meeting. On a golf course in Scotland, the then-candidate met privately with Rupert Murdoch, the CEO of Fox News. Up until that time, Trump and Murdoch had a rocky relationship. Trump was bashing Fox News and its star host, Megyn Kelly. But Trump had just virtually secured the nomination and the time for a reconciliation between the two Republicans seemed ripe.

This opens up an entirely new avenue of investigation. Did this meeting include any discussion of the DNC hacks? Did it cover any data that might have been acquired from Don, Jr.’s tryst with the Russian lawyer? Was there any coordination between Trump and Murdoch on the strategy for rolling out damaging info on Clinton? It is clear that Fox News worked feverishly for Trump’s election. They gave him more airtime and positive commentary than any other media organization. But just how closely were they integrated into this scandal? And should we even mention that Murdoch’s ex-wife, Wendy Deng, is Vladimir Putin’s current girlfriend?

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

These and other questions still need to be answered. But the proximity of these events is a little more than curious. They could all be coincidental, like all of the connections to Russians by multiple Trump associates. But, seriously, what are the odds?

The Fox News President: Trump’s Twitter Feed is Now Hype Central for Fox and Friends BS

The news keeps getting worse for Donald Trump, his administration, and even his family. The just concluded “G19: Embarrassing America World Tour” produced nothing but ridicule for Trump. From the insane proposal to partner with Vladimir Putin on cyber security, to the promotion of Ivanka to world leading seat-filler. Trump’s misadventures abroad served only to affirm his unfitness for the office he holds.

Donald Trump

So when the news gets bad, Trump gets busy. That is, he spends even more time watching Fox News to find morsels of propaganda he can disseminate. It’s a pattern that has long been recognized by veteran Trump watchers. And, more often than not, the clips he passes along to his glassy-eyed disciples are culled from his favorite “news” show, Fox and Friends. It’s a relationship that predates his presidency. Long before he entered politics he had a regular segment on Fox and Friends called “Mondays with Trump.” It served as the launching pad for his eventual campaign and a platform from which he could attack President Obama. What’s more, it’s a corrupt, profit-making syndicate that benefits both Trump and Fox News.

Monday morning provides an object lesson in Trump’s mutually exploitative alliance with the “Curvy Couch” potatoes of Fox and Friends. In the space of just one hour, Trump tweeted four clips from the program that buttressed his defenses on some blossoming scandals. It’s clear that this is where he gets his information and talking points. He must have forgotten that, as President of the United States, he has a vast intelligence and PR infrastructure at his disposal. These are the early morning tweets that Trump felt were important to bring to the attention of the nation:

Topping his agenda, Trump retweeted a clip that criticized the media for covering his tweets. But just think how upset he would be if they didn’t. It was a bland swipe at the press by a professional shill who failed to make any substantive point. But it did get in Trump’s daily dose of media bashing.

That was followed by the first of two clips making blatantly false charges against former FBI director James Comey. What Fox called “a brand new bombshell report” was actually a misreading of the facts. A story in The Hill reported that some of the memos produced by Comey were retroactively designated as classified. However, it did not say that the classified memos were distributed to the media. In fact. the Columbia professor who received the memos denies that anything sensitive was revealed. But that didn’t stop Trump from recklessly charging that “Comey leaked CLASSIFIED INFORMATION to the media. That is so illegal!” Trump took his position just minutes after it was conveniently broadcast on Fox News for him. And he is apparently unaware that it is inappropriate for a president to make prejudgments as to guilt. It biases the potential jury pool and makes a fair trial, should there ever be one, nearly impossible.

The second Comey-related clip featured brand new Fox News contributor, Jason Chaffetz. He resigned his position as chair of the House Oversight Committee last month to join Fox. In this clip Chaffetz attacked Comey while a chyron displayed Trump’s tweet that was inspired by an earlier Fox segment. The circle is complete.

Finally, Trump retweeted a segment that chastised New York Mayor Bill DeBlasio. They were outraged that he missed a vigil for a slain police officer. While it’s important to participate in events like that, Fox ignored that it isn’t always possible. DeBlasio was attending the G20 summit in Germany on business for the city. In other words, he was doing his job and was unable to attend a ceremony that was tragically unplanned.

Trump and his communications team frequently complain that the media doesn’t cover important issues like healthcare and immigration and terrorism. That, of course is untrue. Those issues are covered, despite Trump’s attempts at creating distractions. However, the complaints are ludicrous on their face. When you look at what Trump himself focuses on, it isn’t the media’s fault if they cover the President’s official pronouncements on Twitter. Especially when he hasn’t held a press conference since February. He is letting everyone know where his priorities lie. And if it’s with bullshit he gleans from Fox and Friends, well, that’s just because that’s who he is. Anyone hoping for something more is doomed to be bitterly disappointed.

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

John Oliver’s Hilarious and Frightening Warning About the Next (and Worse) Fox News

On Sunday night John Oliver wrapped up his season with another of his brilliant TV essays. The subject of this one addressed a topic that is currently swirling around the news cycle. Donald Trump’s furious hatred of the media and the free press spiked to new heights this weekend. His repulsive WWE themed tweet is a thinly disguised incitement to violence against journalists. And he is continuing his attacks on what he calls “fake news,” but is really just any news that doesn’t worship him sufficiently.

John Oliver

Trump’s anti-media crusade has been laser-focused on CNN lately. But his broader targets include MSNBC, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and virtually everything other than Fox News. However, John Oliver’s show did some deep digging (video below) on an under-the-radar media company that may be even more of a threat to ethical journalism than Fox News.

Oliver’s research found that the Sinclair Broadcast Group produces flagrantly conservative opinion segments for their affiliate stations. No other station group does this. They include commentaries by their chief political analyst, Boris Epshteyn. After advising Donald Trump’s campaign, Epshteyn served as the White House assistant communications director for surrogate operations. He resigned after repeated complaints about his “terrorizing” his media hosts and colleagues. So Sinclair snapped him up.

Oliver tagged the growing Sinclair empire as “The most influential media company you’ve never heard of.” And with its recent $4 billion bid to acquire the Tribune Company’s stations, it will become even more influential. And that’s a big problem. Because, while Fox News is known to be a purveyor of rabidly right-wing bullpucky, viewers are not as well informed about Sinclair’s biases. But Sinclair’s relative anonymity doesn’t make it less dangerous. As Oliver observed:

“We did some math and we found out that when you combine the most watched nightly newscasts on Sinclair and Tribune stations in some of their largest markets, you get an average total viewership of 2.2 million households. And that is a lot. It’s more than any current primetime show on Fox News. Including ‘Five Idiots Have the Most Intolerable Dinner Party Ever,’ and ‘That Guy From College Everyone Hated Has a Talk Show Now, with Tucker Carlson.'” […]

“If the opinions were confined just to the commentary or to the ad breaks that would be one thing. But Sinclair can sometimes dictate the content of your local newscast as well. And in contrast to Fox News – a clearly conservative outlet where you basically know what you’re getting – with Sinclair they’re injecting Fox-worthy content into the mouths of your local news anchors.”

The most disturbing part of this is that, as Oliver notes, “You might not even know this is happening.” That’s because the local anchors are required to read introductions to these segments written by the propagandists at Sinclair headquarters. They are distributed to the stations as “must runs,” so your local news editors have no editorial control. Consequently, your friendly neighborhood TV anchor is feeding you pre-chewed conservative BS without disclosing it.

At the end of Oliver’s program he introduced a sort of public service video. He suggested that it be used by Tribune stations to alert their viewers of the changes to expect after the pending acquisition by Sinclair. It features Steve Schirripa of the Sopranos. He delivers a hysterical, obscenity-laced disclosure that Sinclair’s ultra-biased clips were not not produced by the local station. “Because the people at this station know,” Schirripa says, “that local news should never be about cheap scaremongering or advancing a political agenda.” He closes saying that “If this becomes a Sinclair station, good luck with that shit.”

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

Watch John Oliver’s program here:

Trump’s Disgraceful ‘Freedom Celebration’ Speech Just Exalts Himself, Whines About the Media

Saturday night Donald Trump took a little time away from lounging at his luxurious golf resort in New Jersey. He flew back to Washington to attend an evangelical concert that supposedly honored veterans in advance of Independence Day.

Donald Trump

As with almost every public appearance he makes, it ends up being entirely about him. He obviously doesn’t care about veterans or the anniversary of America’s founding. If he did, he wouldn’t pollute his speech with self-serving, ego-gratifying bullshit like this (video below):

“The fake media is trying to silence us, but we will not let them. Because the people know the truth. The fake media tried to stop us from going to the White House, but I’m president and they’re not. We won and they lost.

The fact is the press has destroyed themselves because they went too far. Instead of being subtle and smart, they used the hatchet and the people saw it right from the beginning. The dishonest media will never keep us from accomplishing our objectives on behalf of the great American people. Will never happen. Their agenda is not your agenda.”

That’s right. In an address intended to celebrate freedom and commemorate the heroes that make it possible, Trump lashed out again at the media. That’s what he considers to be the real “enemy of the American people.” And the context of his attack is, once again, the results of an election that took place eight months ago. His rabid fetish over having lost the popular vote is weighing on him still. And his obsession with blaming the press for all of his own self-destructive behavior persists.

Trump’s preoccupation with these complaints borders on the psychotic. He simply can’t let them go, even at the expense of tributes to heroes. And he wastes time and taxpayer money attending these self-congratulatory rallies because that’s where he gets his validation. These are nothing but political events designed to prop up Trump’s fragile ego.

There has never been a president who was more contemptuous of the press. His words and deeds are explicit incitement to violence. He doesn’t understand the meaning or value of the First Amendment. Otherwise, how could he repeatedly denigrate journalists as “sleazy,” “liars,” and “horrible human beings”? His provocations have resulted in actual physical attacks on reporters. NBC’s Katy Tur had to have security protect her while covering his campaign. Organizations that advance the welfare of journalists have called him “an unprecedented threat” to press freedom. And nothing proves that more than his latest tweet that overtly celebrates violence against the media.

If you thought that Trump had crossed the line before, you underestimated the depth of his hostility and recklessness. This is his juvenile idea of a joke, but it conveys a distinct and abhorrent message. There is no reason to think that he won’t continue to get worse. He wants to discredit and dismantle the media so that he can rule without criticism or accountability. Under his idea of authoritarian leadership there would be only state-run media. All Americans must unite to make sure that he is not successful. It’s a fight that is as consequential as the one for Independence that is being celebrated this week.

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

Tweetstorming: Donald Trump Remains Manically Obsessed With His War on the Media

Just two days after repulsing the nation with his misogynistic attack on MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski, Donald Trump is at it again. It wasn’t enough to earn the condemnation of both Republicans and Democrats for his juvenile, and possibly unlawful, behavior. Trump appears to have no regrets (or conscience) for his hateful outbursts and, consequently, is resuming them unabated.

Trump Baby

In another of his characteristic displays of dickishness, Trump took to Twitter to escalate his war on the media. It’s a campaign that denigrates the Constitution as it emulates the tactics of tyrants. And proving that he has no sense of shame, he once again unloads on the hosts of Morning Joe:

In Thursday’s tweet, Joe Scarborough was “psycho.” It was Mika who was crazy. But in both tweets Mika’s intelligence was maligned without any examples of her alleged mental deficiencies. Clearly Trump was just throwing another tantrum over having been criticized. His gargantuan ego simply can’t handle it. What’s more, he’s projecting his own stupidity in a pathetic spasm of denial.

And because Trump can’t go two minutes without spewing blatant lies, he again wrote about “their low rated show.” However, Morning Joe is enjoying record high ratings with nine straight quarters of growth. For someone who spent fourteen years on television, he sure doesn’t know anything about the business. Which may explain another of his morning tweets:

This is ignorant on so many levels. First of all, Greta was let go because her show was a complete failure. The program was a virtual sinkhole in the schedule. Based on the performance of the shows before and after, people were obviously changing the channel when it came on and returning when it was over. It was the free market – a concept usually cherished by conservatives – at work. And the notion that her “out of control bosses” fired her for not hating Trump enough is ludicrous. If true, then why have they recently hired or promoted Nicolle Wallace, George Will, Hugh Hewitt, Bret Stephens, and Charlie Sykes, And let’s not forget another Fox News refugee, Megyn Kelly, whose new NBC program is already an epic dud.

The Twitter tantrum continued with a swipe at Trump’s favorite media target, CNN:

This tweet is simply Trump venting his irrational hostilities. CNN has not been exposed as “fake news” by anyone but Trump and his sycophantic minions. As for “garbage Journalism,” that term applies to anything that isn’t sufficiently flattering to Trump. What he regards as legitimate journalism is the National Enquirer and conspiracy crackpot Alex Jones. Trump may be referring to a video by convicted propagandist James O’Keefe. His latest scam featured deceptively edited comments by CNN staffers. But if it proved anything, it’s that CNN has a diverse roster of political opinions and is not the bastion of liberalism that wingnuts like to pretend it is.

The ferocity of Trump’s assault on the media represents a clear and present danger to the free press. His short term goal is to deflect attention from his many policy failures: healthcare, taxes, immigration, etc. But his longer term goal is to denigrate the work of all journalists in order to advance the state as the only “approved” source of information.

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

The reforms he has made to the White House press office are evidence of this. Press Secretary Sean Spicer no longer holds daily televised press briefings. On some occasions reporters aren’t even allowed to make audio recordings. Apparently the administration doesn’t want a record of what the President’s spokesperson says. Which is surprising since Spicer or his alternates often say nothing at all or claim to not know the answers to critical questions. Even worse, the briefings are now attended by the likes of Breitbart News and Alex Jones’ Infowars. If that isn’t proof that they are trying to kill respect for the media, nothing is.

Trump Ally Alex Jones Endorses Insane Conspiracy About NASA’s Child Slave Colonies on Mars

If you’re seeking further evidence that Donald Trump is unfit for the presidency, you don’t have far to look. This week Trump attacked MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski in a deranged tweet that was both offensive and false. In a paranoid rant he charged that all of Robert Mueller’s staff are Hillary Clinton supporters. He accused President Obama of colluding with the Russians during the 2016 presidential election. It is increasingly obvious that he is on a mental cliff’s edge and leaning dangerously toward the abyss.

Alex Jones Infowars

That only makes this new revelation all the more troubling. Conspiracy theorist extraordinaire, Alex Jones of Infowars is a staunch ally of Trump. While campaigning Trump appeared on his radio program and praised his “amazing” reputation. Jones asserts that he talks to Trump frequently and that Trump takes policy ideas from his broadcasts. A Jones “correspondent” was actually granted a White House press pass last month. And yesterday this exchange took place between Jones and his guest, Robert David Steele (video below):

Steele: This may strike your listeners as way out but we actually believe that there is a colony on Mars that is populated by children who were kidnapped and sent into space on a 20 year ride. So that once they get to Mars they have no alternative but to be slaves on the Mars colony.

Jones: Look, I know that 90 percent of the NASA missions are secret and I’ve been told by high level NASA engineers that you have no idea. There is so much stuff going on. But then it goes off into all that, that’s the kind of thing media jumps on. But I know this: we see a bunch of mechanical wreckage on Mars and people say, “Oh look, it looks like mechanics.” They go, “Oh, you’re a conspiracy theorist.” Clearly they don’t want us looking into what is happening. Every time probes go over they turn them off.

Let that sink in for a moment. These freaks actually believe that NASA is sending kidnapped children to Mars. Then they are putting them to work on some unspecified projects. What could they be doing? And all of this being covered up by the thousands of scientists and administrators at the space agency. This would an awful science fiction movie.

Steele also alleged that pedophiles are not just sodomizing children. They are also “terrorizing them to adrenalize their blood,” and murdering them for bone marrow and body parts. Jones listened intently to this lunacy and supported his guest’s ravings. It’s exactly the same sort of nonsense that fueled Jones’ “Pizzagate” scandal. In that affair he alleged that Hillary Clinton and others were running a child sex ring in the basement of a Washington, D.C. pizza parlor. He later had to retract those allegations under threat of a lawsuit.

This is the sort crackpot commentary that is a routine part of the Infowars program. Sadly, NASA had to make a public statement denying the conspiracy. And the fact that Trump admires Jones and gives him unprecedented access to the White House is both absurd and frightening. Prior to the Trump presidency, Jones was regarded as a kook who resided on the lunatic fringe. Now he is a trusted insider with the President’s ear.

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

Fox News Trump Fluffer Sean Hannity Kicks Off a Crackpot Crusade Against Rachel Maddow

The signs of desperation by Fox News in general, and Sean Hannity in particular, are becoming ever more apparent. Their increasingly deranged creation, Donald Trump, ventures farther from reality every day. The bizarre antics on Fox News are reaching epic levels. Perhaps they feel unfettered since having abandoned their “fair and balanced” tagline. Not that it was ever taken seriously to begin with.

Sean Hannity Maddow

This is especially true of Sean Hannity, whose ranting is more unhinged now than ever. He is rapidly approaching levels of lunacy that would make Glenn Beck or Alex Jones proud. Take Wednesday night’s episode for example (video below). Hannity began by saying:

“Tonight we continue to expose the biggest black helicopter, tin foil hat, conspiracy in the Destroy Trump Media: NBC’s Rachel Maddow. This is off-the-hook out of control. And if it wasn’t so serious, it’s actually fully.”

And with that, Hannity launches into a fiery diatribe on what he regards as a major conspiracy theory expose. Would it be on par with the Obama birtherism which he promoted for many years? Or the tragic death of Seth Rich, which Hannity attributes to a cabal of murderous Hillary Clinton associates? Well, hold on to your hats folks. Sean Hannity thinks that Rachel Maddow is behind a dastardly campaign asserting that Jon Ossoff’s election was foiled by the weather. He declares with astonishment that “You can’t make this stuff up.” Which is ironic, because that’s exactly what he’s doing.

The basis for Hannity’s charges of conspiracy theorism is that Maddow asked her colleague, Steve Kornacki, if rain on election day might have depressed turnout in certain areas. Of course, it’s simply reality that inclement weather can have an impact on any election. So without drawing any conclusions, Maddow asked Kornacki if he thought it might have had any impact Tuesday night. She never blamed the weather for the final results or even expressed an opinion on it. She only asked a question. But in Hannity’s cartoon brain she was raving wildly that Mother Nature had purposely sabotaged the Georgia Democrat.

Then Hannity takes up his post as Fox News’ most devoted Trump defender. He complains about Maddow’s frequent (and thoroughly factual) reporting on the allegations of connections to Russia by Trump and/or his campaign. Like many right-wing Trump-fluffers, he insists there is no evidence of any such thing:

“The night cannot go by without Maddow floating some sort of Trump/Russia collusion conspiracy theory, even though nobody says it. Nobody believes it. It’s been debunked. To date there is zero evidence of Trump/Russia collusion. Nothing whatsoever. It’s been a farce, a total fabrication, eleven months of lies and conspiracies made up by people just like Maddow. But despite these facts today, Rachel, she was at it again. Whipping up a new crackpot theory involving President Trump, the mob money, money laundering, and even Vladimir Putin made it into the mix.”

There is so much wrong with that it’s hard to know where to begin. Let’s start with the absurdity that nobody is talking about, or believes, that Trump & Co. have unsavory connections to Russia. Rather than being a debunked, fabricated, farce, it is a fact that has been grudgingly admitted by the very people involved. They include Michael Flynn, Paul Manafort, Jared Kushner, and Jeff Sessions to name a few. In many cases their relationships were hidden and denied until discovered by the press. What’s more, Seventeen independent intelligence agencies agree that Russia engaged in deliberate actions to interfere with the election. Apparently Hannity thinks they are all lying as part of this massive conspiracy.

As for his charge that Maddow is “whipping up” a new conspiracy regarding Trump and mob money, he’s giving her too much credit. It was veteran reporter and executive editor Tim O’Brien who broke this story for Bloomberg News. He wrote a detailed and documented article on “Trump, Russia and a Shadowy Business Partnership.” All Maddow did was cover the subject and interview the author. Hannity never mentioned that or even bothered to cite any actual flaws in the story.

Hannity’s obsession with Maddow ignores the fact that she generally relies on established news sources. He demonstrates this by running a video montage of what he calls “Maddow’s craziest Trump/Russia conspiracy theories.” However, every one of the stories originated from other sources like Reuters or even government agencies like the FBI. And that’s the strategy behind Hannity’s baseless attacks. Even though Maddow gets her information from well researched and vetted journalists, her coverage of it makes it all her invention.

Of course, the real problem Hannity has with Maddow is unrelated to his ludicrous charges. He has a two-fold inspiration for attacking her. First, she effectively covers Donald Trump’s tsunami of scandals. She explains the often complex issues clearly and backs up her explanations with facts. Secondly, Hannity is scared to death because Maddow has overtaken Fox News in the television ratings. Her show is frequently the number one program on cable news. Hannity isn’t used to getting beaten in the ratings, but it is now fairly routine.

Consequently, he is coming out swinging, and swinging wildly, against a superior competitor. And the fact that he isn’t landing any blows must be making him all the more enraged and obsessed. Expect that pattern to continue playing out because Hannity doesn’t have the intelligence or the facts to support his positions. All he has is a drooling frenzy and a shrinking audience of Fox News cultists and Trump loyalists. That, in the end, isn’t going to get him very far, and he knows it.

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