Bill O’Reilly Says That “Christianity Is Not A Religion”

The War on Christmas is in full swing, folks. And the latest battle occurred last night on The O’Reilly Factor.

O’Reilly brought on David Silverman, President of American Atheists, to set up a manufactured debate over the place of Christmas in society, particularly when sponsored by agencies of the government. In the heated exchange, O’Reilly frequently bellowed at his guest whom he called a “fascist” at one point. But the segment’s most surreal moment came when O’Reilly sought to make the argument that public displays of faith on government property are permissible because…

Bill O'Reilly

Yikes! That’s a rather astonishing declaration. I wonder if Christians know that what they are practicing is philosophical, not religious. Among the repercussions of this revelation is that Christianity would not be protected by the First Amendment which prohibits Congress from “respecting the establishment of religion.” The Constitution says nothing about philosophies.

Just to be clear, Here is the definition of each from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary

re·li·gion noun \ri-?li-j?n\
(1) : the service and worship of God or the supernatural (2) : commitment or devotion to religious faith or observance.

phi·los·o·phy noun \f?-?lä-s(?-)f?\
(1) : all learning exclusive of technical precepts and practical arts (2) : the sciences and liberal arts exclusive of medicine, law, and theology.

It seems to me that Christianity fits squarely in the definition of religion with its worship of God and devotion to faith. Philosophy, on the other hand, explicitly excludes Christianity as a theology.

O’Reilly has said some idiotic things on this subject. Like when he wrote in his auto-bloviography “Next time you meet an atheist, tell him or her that you know [me]. Then ask him or her if they still don’t believe there’s a God.” But this makes no sense at all. It is an insult to his audience who are not likely to be pleased that their religion has been downgraded. They will surely chafe at their savior being lumped in with the likes of Aristotle, Confucius, Nietzsche, and Sartre, none of whom walked on water or rose from the dead (that we know of). And if supporting the Constitution’s principles of equality and free expression make you fascist, then there are tens of millions of American fascists. Don’t anybody tell O’Reilly or he’ll start a war on the Constitution.

[Update] Bill O’Reilly has doubled down on his insistence that Christianity is not a religion. In fact, he said that the people who think it is are “so stupid it’s painful.” But if you’re looking for stupidity, it’s in O’Reilly’s argument that Christianity cannot be a religion because “there are many different churches that promote the Christian philosophy in many different ways.” Right Bill, and all of them are “churches.” O’Reilly also quoted from a letter by Calvin Coolidge that he said proved that Christianity was merely a “state of mind,” despite the letter saying that “there will be born in us a Savior…” Now that’s not religious at all, is it?

Fox Nation vs. Reality: 10 Flagrant Falsehoods From The Fox News Community Site

Fox Nation vs. Reality[This article was previously published on Alternet and contains a few excerpts from my new eBook, Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Community’s Assault On Truth. The book contains more than fifty additional examples of Fox’s dishonesty.]

When Fox News debuted sixteen years ago, it was crafted from scratch to be a partisan outlet for right-wing propaganda and a platform for advancing a conservative agenda. Its founder, Rupert Murdoch, was already an internationally known purveyor of right-slanted newspapers and broadcasters. Complimenting Fox’s television presence is its Internet community web site, Fox Nation. The statement of purpose posted on the Fox Nation web site says that it is “committed to the core principles of tolerance, open debate, civil discourse, and fair and balanced coverage of the news.” However, a cursory glance at the site reveals that they have fallen wide of their stated purpose by several light years.

Fox Nation is layered thickly with far-right extremist diatribes and links to disreputable articles plucked from the Internet’s fringes. And the notion that civil discourse can take place on Fox Nation is quickly dispelled by reading their user forums with their frequent use of the “N” word and juvenile references to the President as “Odumbo” and the First Lady as “Moo-chelle.” These sorts of comments are not anomalies. Fox Nation is deliberately catering to this caliber of audience who revel in overt racist and hostile dialogue. This is not the conventional, freewheeling online chatter that is found on comment boards and is particularly unusual for a site sponsored by a major national news network.

Not much is known about the operations of Fox Nation. Unlike other news enterprises that identify their principle staff, Fox Nation treats their publishers, editors, etc., as if they were covert agents of espionage. There is no masthead or bylines or any other indication of who is responsible for the repugnant content posted daily on the web page. Requests for this information from Fox corporate communications officers went unanswered. And given the dishonesty, unprofessionalism, ignorance, and immaturity of the tone and substance on the site, perhaps it is their intention to remain anonymous in order to avoid the shame that would come with an association to such puerile trash.

Fox CEO Rupert Murdoch was a harsh critic of Google News, calling them “parasites,” because he said they steal his content by posting headlines and short blurbs and linking to the source articles. But that’s pretty hypocritical because it’s exactly what Fox Nation does. There is almost no original content, and what they harvest from other sources is often planted on affiliated sites like those of Fox News contributors Tucker Carlson, Michele Malkin, and Dick Morris.

What follows are ten excerpts from my ebook, Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Community’s Assault On Truth. The book chronicles more than fifty flagrantly dishonest reports by the Fox Nationalist team of faux journalists. These are not mere differences of opinion or discussions that might have varying degrees of perspective. They are obvious, provable, outright lies, and they are manifestations of a disconnect with the real world.

1) Human Carbon Emissions Could Put OFF a Lethal New Ice Age
According to the Fox Nationalists, the perpetrators of Global Warming are actually rescuing the planet from a frigid doom. They quote Cambridge University research published in the journal Nature Geoscience. The only problem with their conclusion is that the scientist they reference in the article, Luke Skinner, has a completely different conclusion. He says that he anticipated this response amongst climate crisis deniers and said that they are…

“…missing the point, because where we’re going is not maintaining our currently warm climate but heating it much further, and adding CO2 to a warm climate is very different from adding it to a cold climate.

“The rate of change with CO2 is basically unprecedented, and there are huge consequences if we can’t cope with that.”

Skinner told the BBC that the results of the study point to the sensitivity of the climate system to “quite small changes in CO2, let alone the huge changes that we’ve been responsible for over the last 200 years.” Of course, none of that is included in the Fox Nation article. They deliberately neglect the obvious point that by the time the presumed ice age begins, in 1,500 years, global warming, if unchecked, would have already put half the planet’s current land mass under water. But these facts do not sway Fox from cherry-picking out-of-context soundbites to mislead their audience.

2) College Mate: Obama Was An Ardent Marxist-Leninist
In this episode Fox Nation posted as their featured headline story an article with the title: College Mate: Obama Was an ‘Ardent’ ‘Marxist-Leninist.’ In order to fabricate this wholly dishonest smear, Fox sunk to re-posting a column written by conservative bomb-thrower Selwyn Duke. Duke’s article was originally published by The New American, the periodical of the extremist and notoriously fascistic John Birch Society.

In the article, Duke relied entirely on the testimony of John Drew, a man who has been pushing his dubious and uncorroborated account of a college relationship with Obama for years. He claims that Obama was a close friend and confidant. The truth is he only met Obama casually a handful of times at gatherings with many others present. He never attended college with Obama because the future President didn’t enter Occidental College until after Drew had graduated.

It’s painfully clear to anyone paying attention that Drew is attempting to exploit his brief encounters with Obama to exalt himself, disseminate his rightist propaganda, and earn a few bucks in the process. Now, after years of plodding through radical right-wing rags and Internet backwater rabble, Drew and Duke have succeeded in getting Fox Nation to sling their stale mud.

3) Obama Selling Amnesty For $465
The issue of immigration is one that the Fox Nationalists relish in demagoguing. They publish numerous stories that are openly racist, as has been thoroughly documented. This is just such a story that was designed to inflame prejudice with its utterly dishonest skewing of the facts. The headline composed by Fox Nation is wholly untrue. Not only is amnesty not a part of the administration’s program, nothing in it is for sale.

In truth, President Obama directed the Department of Homeland Security to exercise prosecutorial discretion so that innocent children who were brought to this country by undocumented parents are not unduly punished while a more comprehensive solution is negotiated with Congress. The program does not provide amnesty. The fee to apply for this program is intended to offset costs, but can be waived on a case by case basis for applicants unable to pay.

None of those facts stopped Fox from deliberately misrepresenting the matter in a way that leads their audience to presume that the administration is peddling citizenship to foreigners who come here to steal our jobs. It appears that Fox picked up the story from the juveniles at Breitbart News where John Nolte published an article that implied that Obama’s goal is to mint new voters. Never mind that the immigrants partaking of this program will not have voting rights because they will not be citizens.

4) Americans Not Buying Buffett Rule
The Buffett Rule that Americans are not buying refers to his remarks that wealthy folks like him should not be paying lower tax rates than average folks like his secretary. So all that the Fox Nationalists had to do to validate their headline was produce the results of a poll that shows that a majority of respondents do not believe that raising taxes on millionaires will do any good. And since, in this case, they are relying on the results of a poll conducted by Fox News, they should be able to support whatever preconceived myth they want to invent.

However, the very first paragraph of their own story states that “more voters think raising taxes on wealthy Americans will help (40 percent) rather than hurt the economy (24 percent).” And the margin of difference (16%) isn’t even close. Yet somehow the headline atop the article overtly refutes the facts in their own survey. Are these people even trying anymore? They must really think their readers are idiots. And since they must know their audience better than anyone else, I will defer to their assessment.

5) NBC News Hires Anchor Who Pledged to Not Criticize Obama About Anything
In this episode of Fox Nation’s departure from reality, the Fox Nationalists jumped on remarks by Al Sharpton suggesting that he intends to refrain from ever criticizing President Obama. But that isn’t what he said.

Sharpton: “What I don’t want to see is because he is black we act like he’s not the real president – he ought to be leading the black cause or the labor cause. He’s the President. To minimize who he is, I think, is an insult to the achievement of having him there.”

So this was not about Sharpton never criticizing Obama, just not constraining Obama to being merely the president of black Americans as opposed to all Americans. Fox, on the other hand, should acknowledge that their whole business model rests on not criticizing Republicans and conservatives. In a specific example you have Dick Morris, who has been on the Fox payroll for years, and pledged never to criticize Mitt Romney:

“I decided a couple of – a month or two ago to stop dumping on Mitt Romney, for example … Not because I approve of Romneycare, not because I approve of his flip-flops, flip on abortion, but because I may have to be one of those who carries this guy for a couple of months when he’s running against Obama and I don’t want to make my own task harder.”

Morris fulfilled that promise by becoming one of Romney’s most ardent cheerleaders. Just days before Obama won with a commanding Electoral College victory, Morris told Fox News that a Romney landslide was a virtual certainty.

6) Elizabeth Warren Praises Communist China
In response to an ad by Massachusetts senate candidate Elizabeth Warren, the Fox Nationalists have not only lied, but exposed their latent unpatriotic tendencies as well. To state bluntly that “Elizabeth Warren Praises Communist China” is a thoroughly manufactured falsehood. She never did anything remotely of the kind. What she did was advocate for the importance of America remaining competitive on an international basis and not permit China to take the lead. Here is what she said:

“We’ve got bridges and roads in need of repair, and thousands of people in need of work. Why aren’t we rebuilding America? Our competitors are putting people to work, building the future. China invests 9 percent of its GDP in infrastructure. America, we’re at just 2.4 percent. We can do better. We can build a foundation for a strong new economy and get people in Massachusetts to work right now.”

The Fox Nationalists have a decidedly shallow grasp of world affairs. They think that lamenting America falling behind on matters critical to international competitiveness is the same as praising a political system of government. Were these same conservatives outraged when Reagan, and other cold warriors, argued that the U.S. was falling behind the Soviet Union militarily and, therefore, they were praising Russia’s communism?

For Fox News, and its conservative benefactors, to criticize Warren for these comments is akin to advocating for America to succumb to foreign competitors. In effect, it’s conservatives who are acceding to China’s superiority – not the other way around.

7) Stocks Tumble Worldwide After Obama Speech
The implication of this headline is that Obama’s speech had something to do with a stock market decline. However, the very first paragraph of the Bloomberg News article Fox cites specifically states that the decline is due to…

“…escalating concern about Greece’s debt crisis and speculation congress won’t pass President Obama’s plan to boost the economy.

In other words, the markets favor Obama’s plan and want it to be implemented. So a more honest headline would have read “Stocks Tumble Worldwide Due To Republican Obstructionism.” But then again, if you’re looking for a more honest headline then you probably wouldn’t be reading Fox Nation in the first place.

8) Guess Who Tried To Break Into Southwest Cockpit?
Notice that in this headline the Fox Nationalists explicitly describes Ali Reza Shahsavari as trying to break into the cockpit of a Southwest Airlines plane. But anyone who read a little further down would have seen that the article unambiguously contradicts the headline saying “Initially, authorities said the man had tried to break into the cockpit but Amarillo Aviation Director Patrick Rhodes later said that he was ‘not trying to break into the cockpit, but was unruly and had confronted the cabin crew.'”

The headline was wholly the creation of Fox News. The story itself was sourced to the Associated Press, whose article got the headline right: “Southwest flight makes emergency landing in Texas.” So what we have here is Fox deliberately falsifying the headline in order to make a derogatory insinuation about a man of Iranian descent who just happens to be an American citizen born in Mississippi. The article states that there is no indication of terrorism and additional reporting describe the incident as an episode of mental illness triggered by an argument with another passenger. The only conclusion is that Fox saw a brown man with Middle-Eastern features and decided to invent an international terrorism incident where none existed by appending a provocative question to the story that contradicted the article’s content.

9) Man Linked to ‘Occupy’ Protest Charged With Attempted Assassination of Obama
The Fox News Channel ran a story with this same deceptive theme. They hosted Michelle Malkin to engage in a discussion that was deliberately designed to smear the Occupiers. During the segment they displayed a picture of the suspect, Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez, with a caption that said: “‘Occupy’ Shooter.” There was no question mark or other qualifying notation to indicate that this was merely speculation on the part of Fox News.

For the record, the only link between this guy and the Occupy movement is the one invented by Fox. The Washington police have stated unequivocally that they have no evidence that he was affiliated in any way with the protesters. Reports that he may have tried to hide in the crowds at the Occupy DC site should not surprise anyone. Any densely populated location would attract somebody trying to elude law enforcement. A football game or an Alzheimer’s Walkathon would serve the same purpose.

What little is known about Ortega-Hernandez would likely lead objective analysts to suspect him of being a Teabagger. He is said to be anti-government, hates President Obama, and has a history of mental illness. That’s a profile that would fit perfectly for say … Glenn Beck.

10) Poll: Majority Blame Obama For Bad Economy
There have been numerous polls asking respondents to say who they hold responsible for the state of the American economy. In every one of them George W. Bush ranks at or near the top, with Congress and Wall Street following close behind. Usually President Obama is not the target of most of the blame.

Leave it to Fox News to come up with a poll that contradicts the others. And it should come as no surprise that the poll they’ve latched onto is the work of Rasmussen’s Pulse Opinion Research. However, even with a fixed pollster, and a rabidly partisan news outlet, Fox still finds it necessary to outright lie about the poll’s results.

In Rasmussen’s poll 34% said that Obama is the most to blame for the slow economic recovery. Most elementary school graduates know that that is not a majority. What’s more, if you add the responses of those who said that it was either Congress, Wall Street, or George W. Bush, it comes to a clear majority of 61% saying that Obama is not to blame. The Fox Nationalists must take great comfort in the knowledge that their audience is too incurious to actually look into anything themselves.

Bonus #11) Obama More Unpopular Than Tea Party
Here we have Fox Nation with a headline that is diametrically opposed to the actual results of a poll. From the New York Times:

“The public’s opinion of the Tea Party movement has soured in the wake of the debt-ceiling debate. The Tea Party is now viewed unfavorably by 40 percent of the public and favorably by just 20 percent, according to the poll.

“The president’s overall job approval rating remained relatively stable, with 48 percent approving of the way he handles his job as president and 47 percent disapproving.”

To repeat, 48% approve of Obama while only 20% approve of the Tea Party. That means Obama’s approval is more than twice that of the Tea Party. What’s more, Obama is viewed favorably by slightly more people than view him unfavorably. The Tea Party is viewed unfavorably by twice as many people as view it favorably.

The only way to spin this poll positively for the Tea Party is to deliberately misconstrue the data by taking into account only the unfavorable numbers as if they existed in a vacuum. Leave it to Fox to lie to their audience and produce a community characterized by ignorance and wishful thinking.

These are just a few examples of the veracity-challenged deceptions that appear everyday on Fox Nation. In the ebook, Fox Nation vs. Reality, there are dozens more examples of the documented, deliberate dishonesty that is the hallmark of Fox News. It’s a handy reference for rebutting those crazy uncles who keep sending you conspiracy theory chain letters and berating you for having missed Hannity last night.

Fox Nation is an integral part of the Fox News family and a critical component of their mission to deceive the general public and reinforce the partisan tunnel-blindness of their glassy-eyed disciples. This makes it all the more necessary to shine a light on their cynical mauling of truthfulness in media. Mark Twain said that “Reality can be beaten with enough imagination.” And the fabulists at Fox have imagination in abundance as evidenced by all the tales they make up on their web site. So the more they seek to deceive, the more the rest of us need to be prepared to rebut and confront them. As difficult as that task may seem, we can take heart in Stephen Colbert’s observation that “Reality has a well known liberal bias.” Which explains why it is so at odds with what Fox represents.

FOX Ratings Fail: November Increase For CNN, MSNBC Double That Of FOX News

Confirming the ratings slowdown of Fox News post-election, the November ratings show Fox with a comparatively small increase for November 2012 over their numbers for the same month in 2011. While all three networks rose due to this being an election year, Fox’s unimpressive 55% bump was barely half the leap of either CNN or MSNBC.

Fox News Ratings Nov 2012

Perhaps this what you get when you deceive your audience by leading them to believe that their lame candidate was actually in contention despite all the objective evidence to the contrary. Prior to election day Fox hyped notably partisan polls like Rasmussen, and famously idiotic pundits like Dick Morris, who confidently declared that Romney would win in a landslide.

Then, on election night, Fox continued the charade by hosting Karl Rove, who refused to accept the reality of Romney’s defeat. The spectacle that played out on live television had Rove arguing with Fox’s election desk. This caused Anchor Megyn Kelly to ask Rove “Is this just math that you do as a Republican to make yourself feel better, or is this real?” Only on Fox would someone seriously ask their own paid contributor if what he was saying was real.

Since the election Fox News has struggled to make sense of a world they had tried so hard to pretend did not exist – a world where a socialist, Muslim from Kenya could prevail over the richest presidential candidate ever put forward by a major political party. What has America come to?

The flagrant fallacies tendered by Fox were insufficient to topple Obama from his pedestal. Not his trysts with commies like Bill Ayres, nor his scandalous Fast and Furious gunrunning, nor his sordid embrace of gay soldiers, nor his lack of a birth certificate, and not even his culpability for a devastating hurricane, could prevent the President’s reelection. And since all of these would-be scandals were propagated by Fox News, it’s possible their audience is no longer willing to accept what they say at two-faced value.

It’s still too soon to make any predictions about the future rankings of the cable news market. The Fox audience may yet prove to be as gullible and prone to deception as ever. But for the time being there is a glimmer of hope that the marketplace will make purveyors of faulty products pay a price.

If anyone bought a pair of shoes that were as poorly constructed and uncomfortable as most of the stories on Fox News, that shoe company would quickly go out of business. Now we have just to wait to find out if a significant number of Americans are willing to bear the pain of walking another mile in Fox Shoes.

Glenn Beck Dunks American Flag (And Obama) In “Urine”

This may be one of the most asinine stunts Glenn Beck has ever engaged in. Apparently he was mocking an art exhibit that featured a painting of President Obama with his arms outstretched and a wearing a crown of thorns. That’s not a particularly original concept as I did a similar work years ago featuring Beck:

Glenn Beck Messiah

When I did my artwork portraying Beck as a Messianic figure it was in response to Beck’s own behavior and his wailing about being the subject of attacks. He wept and hollered and whined that he was being persecuted. Obama has never done any of those things.

Beck’s lame attempt at satirizing Serrano’s “Piss Christ” was really just a big waste of time – which makes it no different than anything else Beck does. On this occasion he dropped a toy Obama doll into what he said was a jar of his own urine. Beck asserted that he was only defending the First Amendment’s protection of freedom of expression, but there was really nothing of substance that he had to say about either the artwork or the Constitution. He just seemed to be getting an excessive amount of personal pleasure from his childish prank that was really nothing more than a desperate attempt to get publicity.

Glenn Beck Urine

The pretend artwork that Beck introduced in his pretend French accent was placed up for auction on eBay and generated bids in excess of $11,000 before eBay removed it. That says something about what his followers find valuable. What he seemed to have missed entirely, however, was that he was also submerging an American flag in the jar of pee. How patriotic of him.

And there was more craziness emanating from Beck yesterday. He delivered a sermon about his search for a plan to save the world. It was a disturbing display of a psychosis that should be troubling to anyone concerned about his mental health. In the course of the sermon he lamented that God was trying to tell him what he should do, but there was just so much that he was overwhelmed.

How can one guy with a video blog reform politics, culture, the economy, education, family, media, and the faith of a nation? Beck looked into the camera and lamented that he had no idea of how to do all of this – yet. But he was getting close to figuring it out. And he had diagrammed his draft of the solution on a giant chalkboard. But it looked like the scribblings of someone in the midst of a schizophrenic seizure, or peaking on LSD, or both.

Glenn Beck Chalk Wall

Seriously, this dude needs help. It’s really too bad that the people in his life are too dependent on his cash generation to intervene and get him into therapy. When he goes off it is going to be messy.

Fox News Makes Shameful Attack On MSNBC’s Touré

In a Fox News op-ed, Dan Gainor, of the uber-conservative Media Research Center, hurled some disparaging and nearly incoherent insults at Touré, one of the hosts of MSNBC’s The Cycle.

Gainor took issue with a commentary Touré delivered (video below) about the GOP’s unfounded and politically-motivated attack on UN ambassador Susan Rice. Touré made some rather cogent points about the spectacle Rice’s critics, particularly Sen. John McCain, were making over a manufactured controversy. McCain and others seem feverishly obsessed with Amb. Rice’s comments on a number of Sunday news programs regarding Benghazi. Any fair observer would have to recognize that what Rice said was provided to her by intelligence authorities and was the best information available (or permitted to be disclosed) at the time. But fair observation is not the business that Gainor and the MRC are in.

Gainor’s tirade was topped with a headline that read “MSNBC Anchor Touré makes shameful attack on McCain.” What constitutes shamefulness to Gainor is hard to figure. His specific complaints were that Touré was playing the “race card” in his remarks. But Gainor’s examples were not the least bit focused on race. For instance, Gainor cited Touré saying that McCain…

“…gave us the horrible optics of he and Lindsey Graham as old, white, establishment folks wrongly and repeatedly attacking a much younger black woman moments after an election in which blacks and women went strongly blue.”

Gainor’s shallow grasp of the English language resulted in his interpreting that as a racial criticism of McCain. However, the rest of the English speaking world would notice that Touré was speaking about the “optics” of the criticism, not whether there was any actual racism involved. Touré was plainly addressing the potential harm for the Republican Party in being perceived as insensitive to racial and gender issues by repeatedly attacking minorities and women. That’s not an accusation of racism or sexism, it is an acknowledgement that the subjects of such attacks might be less likely to support those who make the attacks. That’s not only common sense, it is precisely what occurred on election day a couple of weeks ago. And to affirm how cognitively-challenged Gainor is, he added this as further evidence of Touré’s alleged race-baiting:

“Never one to ignore a chance to paint all Republicans as racist, he added one more dig: ‘Looks like the GOP is already laying the foundation for losing in 2016.'”

How is that one more “dig” that paints anyone as racist? If anything, it is one more affirmation that Touré was speaking only about political matters. Nevertheless, Gainor is determined to turn this into a “shameful” racial affair. With that purpose in mind Gainor reached back to a September column wherein Touré wrote “Part of my job when I speak about politics is to speak up for black people and say things black people need said.” If Gainor thinks that that is shameful, he needs an EKG EEG stat, because there is good reason to suspect that there is no brain activity going on his head. The reason that it is important to have diversity in the media is precisely because it provides perspectives that otherwise would not be represented. Our media is enhanced by the inclusion of minorities and women who say the things that these previously excluded members of society need said.

Notwithstanding the fact that Gainor’s tantrum over Touré’s commentary was ridiculous and he failed to identify anything remotely racial about it, Fox News is demonstrably racist and the evidence of that is in its coverage. While it may be too broad to say that Fox’s attacks on Amb. Rice alone constitute racism, take a look at some of the most prominent targets of Fox’s smear machine and ask yourself what they have in common:

Fox News Racism

That pretty much says it all. If Touré had wanted to make an issue of racism, he would have plenty of evidence.

Fox News Lies About Alleged Tom Ricks Apology

For the past couple of days the media has been abuzz with reports about foreign policy expert, Tom Ricks, calling Fox News “a wing of the Republican Party” while on Fox News (video below). It was a perfectly appropriate remark in the context of the discussion, but Fox host Jon Scott abruptly ended the interview, which only made the controversy more prominent.

Fox News Tom Ricks

Ricks’ observation that Fox is the media division of the Republican Party is neither original nor unique. Many others have noticed the same obvious bias, including the former director of communications for the White House, Anita Dunn. And conservatives like David Frum have recognized that Fox has become even more influential in GOP politics than an ordinary PR firm would be.

Since the on-air dust-up, Fox VP of News, Michael Clemente, told The Hollywood Reporter that Ricks had apologized to him off the air. That’s a convenient tale considering there is no evidence or witnesses to the alleged apology. Clemente went even further by personally insulting Ricks saying that he “doesn’t have the strength of character to do that publicly.”

And it doesn’t end there. Ricks later responded to Clemente in remarks to the Hollywood Reporter saying…

“Please ask Mr. Clemente what the words of my supposed apology were. I’d be interested to know. Frankly, I don’t remember any such apology.”

Now, this morning, Clemente fired back again calling Ricks’ response “utterly dishonest,” and snidely needling him:

“I’ll refresh his memory – what he said following the segment was, ‘Sorry… I’m tired from a non-stop book tour.’ Perhaps now he can finally get some rest.”

This is typical defensive behavior from Fox News. They do not countenance criticism, and when they encounter it they lash out wildly at their critics. One memorable example of this is when a study was released by the University of Maryland that Confirms That Fox News Makes You Stupid, Clemente hit back by insulting the University’s students who had nothing to do with the study. He also alleged that the university was ranked as the “Best Party School,” by the Princeton Review, which was patently false.

So we have evidence that Clemente will brazenly lie when he is confronted by criticism. Consequently, it would be foolish to accept his assertion that Ricks had apologized in the privacy of Clemente’s office. And why would anyone assume that an executive at a network that makes up the news they broadcast would be the least bit averse to making up conversations that cast critics in a negative light?

Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Case Of The Imaginary Regulations

When Fox Nation needs to disseminate some fictional talking points, they turn to disreputable blogs like for new material. That’s what they did this weekend when the Fox Nationalists posted this fallacious item about 80 regulations that were supposed to have been proposed by the Obama administration in a single day:

Fox Nation

As usual, the headline, and the underlying article, are not even remotely true. The article links to the web site, and specifically to a page where there were indeed 80 items listed. Unfortunately for the credibility of Fox News, they were not 80 regulations. Most of the items were simply notices of comment periods where the public could have a say in the administration of their government agencies. Some were requests to collect additional information. There were announcements of appointments to performance review boards. Here is one of my favorite items on the list: “Meetings: National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.” That was merely the publication of a meeting date.

The magnitude of ignorance required for somebody to construe this list as being entirely comprised of proposed regulations is stunning. But here we have both the Hotair blog and Fox Nation doing just that. They would only have to have read a few lines to know that, while these items had some relation to regulations previous and pending, they were not regulations themselves.

It’s one thing for some dippy blog to misconstrue something so obvious, but a legitimate news enterprise should check before regurgitating their stupidity. That, of course, explains why Fox News didn’t check – it’s not even marginally legitimate.

Glenn Beck’s Agenda 21 Conspiracy Extravaganza And Acute Paranoia Revue

Thom Hartmann had an enlightening segment last week (video below) that delved into the delusional Psycho-Chicken Littles who are convinced that the United Nations is plotting to take over the world and make slaves of us all. The alleged UN conspiracy centers around an environmental and economic sustainability program called Agenda 21. It is an entirely voluntary set of proposals that member nations can reference for solutions to ongoing problems in their own countries. It imposes nothing on anyone, and the solutions are well researched approaches to serious issues that face our planet.

Agenda 21 is also the title of a new book published by Glenn Beck (although there is some controversy over whether he stole credit for it). But it is so much more than just another literary divergence. It is both a book and an action plan to combat the plot to impose what Beck describes as “centralized control over all of human life on planet earth.” The book is presented as a “thriller” but it incorporates the very same paranoid ravings that Beck and other whack jobs are spewing. The obsessive fear of a UN led one-world government goes back decades with roots in the neo-fascist John Birch Society’s anti-communist campaigns. The Birchers, along with conspiracy kingpin Alex Jones, appear to be where Beck lifted this issue. And, not surprisingly, Beck also injects George Soros into the affair as its clandestine financier.

Beck’s fictionalized version of Agenda 21 describes a future America where “There is no president, no congress, no freedom. There is only Agenda 21.” Of course, Beck takes these horror stories seriously and extends them to new extremes with accusations that many local municipalities are already secretly putting the dastardly Agenda 21 principles into effect. He constructs a delusionally apocryphal scenario wherein Agenda 21 is the road map to tyranny. He is even mounting an effort to fight back by deputizing his glassy-eyed disciples to report back to him any evidence of the plot’s advance. There is a link and instructions for how to communicate with his own central command center, which he calls the Agenda 21 National Registry…

“Agenda 21 relies heavily on local governments. The problem is that there is currently no way to track on a national level just how prevalent Agenda 21-related efforts have become. But you can help. Check your town’s council minutes and agendas (and those of committees as well) or, if possible, attend a meeting. If any Agenda 21-related efforts have been discussed or implemented, please let us know!”

Beck helpfully includes a list of “keywords” that his faithful can use to recognize Agenda 21’s covert implementation. Among the frightening words that Beck warns are proof that the invasion has commenced: communities, quality, justice, sustainable, education, development. If you encounter any of these frightful buzzwords being used by your city government, then get the hell out of town, buy farmland, gold and guns, and be prepared to defend God and country from your cornfield bunker. For more of these incriminating words, refer to this actual word cloud from Beck’s web site:

Glenn Beck Agenda 21

By recruiting his spellbound followers, Beck hopes to build an army of informers who will populate his registry with ghastly evidence that global environmentalists and economists are well on their way to shackling Earth’s inhabitants via the oppression of economic equality, social justice, and {gasp} clean air and water.

It simply doesn’t get any crazier than this. What’s sad is that there are actually people who regard Beck as a righteous visionary struggling to save mankind. It’s going to be a tragic day when Beck leads his followers to Guyana and offers them all some tasty Kool-Aid. That will likely come after some valiant Beckian has attempted to cleanse the country of some the progressives that Beck has called a “cancer on America.” Hopefully these dire predictions will not come to pass, but Beck is playing with hellfire by inciting his audience of dimwits whose behavior cannot be accurately forecast.

Thom Hartmann on Beck and Agenda 21:

Right-Wing Blames God For Romney Loss And America’s Descent Into Socialism

The Republican Party has been suffering debilitating and very public seizures produced by the results of the election a couple of weeks ago. They are desperately attempting to find explanations for how they could have lost on such a grand scale an election they presumed was in the bag. After spending unprecedented amounts of money, Republicans still had to wake up Wednesday morning with Obama returning to the White House for another four years, two more Democrats in the senate, and nine more in the House. Even with the propaganda power of Fox News, the top rated cable news network, and its frothing companion web site Fox Nation, conservative fanatics were unable deceive enough citizens to vote against their own best interests.

At first the excuses focused on typically lame dodges involving the weaknesses of their candidates. Then they shifted to assertions that it was a failure from not being sufficiently conservative. Eventually they trotted out accusations directed at the allegedly negative, Chicago-style campaigning of the Democrats. And sprinkled in amidst all of this were hysterical wails of imaginary corruption and voter fraud.

Now that some time has passed, the forlorn right-wingers have been able to reflect on these events and discovered the true source of their despair: GOD!

That’s right. The Heavenly Father on whom they had entrusted so much of their hopes had betrayed them. It has become impossible to ignore that God clearly preferred Obama and other Democrats to the roster of GOP loonies that pretended to speak in His name.

Prior to the election, folks like Pat Robertson had confidently declared that God had personally assured them of a Republican victory. Now Robertson has had to backtrack saying that “I thought I heard from God, I thought I had heard clearly from God, what happened?” What happened was that you were unable to distinguish the voice of God from the hallucinatory voices rattling around in your senile head.

And speaking of hallucinatory, Glenn Beck had his own divine prophesies mangled when he spoke of an inner certainty that the Lord was preparing the path for righteous Republicans to prevail:

“I am to the point to where I think that God is trying to make this so clear to us that if it happens, it’s his finger. Because, boy, nothing looks good. And yet, everybody I know who I consider a spiritual giant feels good.”

Glenn Beck Messiah

The day after the election Beck was singing a different hymn when he said “Man, sometimes God really sucks.” But what else can he say when the day before he declared “If [voters are] so dead inside that they can no longer see the difference between good and evil, we have to be destroyed.”

That’s typical of the sanctimonious zealots who believe that they are the only ones with a direct line to God. They exalt themselves and their imagined favor with a deity that their principles mock. They blithely ignore biblical instructions to “judge not, lest ye be judged,” and openly denigrate the faith of others – particularly President Obama, who is wrongly believed to be a Muslim by about one-third of Republicans.

Right-wingers on the Fox News community web site Fox Nation even go so far as to explicitly state that Obama is “God-Less.” This article linked to the execrable conspiracy obsessed Breitbart News.

Fox Nation

The spiritual consternation of the right is thoroughly understandable. They had just run a campaign that fervently tried to paint Democrats as socialists bent on imposing a secular, atheist dictatorship on America. They condemned their policies as big-government takeovers that would throw freedom-loving patriots into bondage. They cast Democrats as leaning far too extremely to the left to be acceptable to voters. Yet people voted for them anyway. That could be interpreted in some circles as a mandate for the sort of socialism that the GOP was running against.

What the right missed was that all of the left-leaning agenda of the Democratic Party had far more in common with God’s agenda than the rank selfishness and greed of the GOP. Democrats advocated for health care (healing the sick), immigration (brotherhood), financial assistance (caring for the least among us), income equality and separation of church and state (giving Caesar his due), and deescalation of hostilities in Iraq and Afghanistan (blessed be the peacemakers). What’s surprising is that Republicans could oppose all of these things and still think they were doing God’s work.

The funny thing is that they had plenty of signs. The religious right is fond of ascribing meaning to significant events such as natural disasters. Many of them told their disciples that Katrina was God’s wrath on the sinfulness of New Orleans. Why, then, did they not see that God was sending them a warning when Hurricane Isaac slammed down on Tampa, scuttling day one of the GOP convention? Why didn’t they hear God’s message when Sandy battered the New England states just days before the election, giving Obama an opportunity to look presidential?

Now that we know whose side God was really on, Republicans are expressing their bitterness and disappointment with the Lord. That doesn’t seem like a particularly good way to get back in His good graces. But then the GOP was never very good at humility or admitting their mistakes. So what we see now is an escalation of apocalyptic doomsday scenarios that thrust the weak-minded into fearful panics. Leading the way is Fox News who broadcast this cheerful special on Thanksgiving Eve: “Countdown to Doomsday.”

Fox News Doomsday

They might make out better if they take some time to study the teachings of their Savior and seek to integrate them into their political philosophy. But then that would just make them liberals, wouldn’t it?

Greta Van Susteren: The Obama Administration Is Trying To Punish Fox News

Poor Greta Van Susteren. Her Fox News program has lately been lagging in the ratings behind MSNBC’s “The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell.” And now she is feeling neglected by the Obama administration.

In a post on her Gretawire blog, Van Sustern has resorted to copious use of BRIGHT RED FONTS WITH ALL CAPITAL LETTERS to express her dismay at being left out of all the reindeer games. She laments that Fox News was overlooked by the State Department when media briefings were held for various news organizations. She whines that this is “playing dirty” and was being done “to punish Fox” for their critical reporting.

Van Susteren: The Administration in what looks like a coordinated effort is denying Fox access to information that they are handing out to other news organizations. Why exclude Fox? That is simple – to punish — to try to teach us a lesson not to pry, not to look further for facts.

Van Susteren fails to disclose that the State Department had previously explained why Fox was not included in previous briefings and press releases. It had nothing to do with punishment. The State Department distributed their information to news organizations that had reporters who were assigned to cover the department. Fox News has no such reporters so they didn’t get on the list. In fact, Fox has a shoe-string news operation that doesn’t concentrate on actual reporting. Most of their “news” assets are allocated to anchors, analysts, and pundits, who are not doing any bona fide journalism. In short, the State Department had no one to notify and they weren’t going to send notices to everyone with a Fox News email address.

The administration would, nevertheless, be justified in bypassing Fox even if they did assign a reporter to the beat. Contrary to Van Susteren’s kvetching, Fox has not been “looking for facts” about the Benghazi attacks. Rather, they have been wallowing in speculation and wild conspiracy theories. Fox anchors and guests have dispensed absurd declarations that President Obama had deliberately allowed Ambassador Stevens to be murdered; that he personally ordered rescuers to stand down; that he refused requests for additional security (actually it was congress who voted to cut funding for embassy security); and that he could be subject to impeachment for unspecified high crimes and misdemeanors.

None of these assertions have any bearing in fact, but that doesn’t stop Van Susteren from yammering about Fox getting a cold shoulder from the administration. Fox deserves to be shunned. They are not a credible news enterprise. They are no more entitled to press passes than the UFO Gazette or the Hogwarts Herald. If Van Susteren did a little self-analysis before ripping into her imaginary slights by Obama, she might be better situated to complain. As it is, her post includes a curious admission/excuse for Fox getting the facts wrong:

Van Susteren: To the extent we get anything wrong is because the Administration is doing whatever it can to thwart us from getting the facts.

On the contrary, it would be more correct to say that to the extent you deliberately distort the facts, the administration is under no obligation to help you continue to get everything wrong. Van Susteren is, incredibly, blaming Fox’s mistakes on Obama. Nobody forced Fox to wade so far out into delusional speculation. In fact, based on their body of work, it appears to be their corporate mission. And the administration can hardly be criticized (or accused of punishment) if they should be reluctant to further that mission.