Bill O’Reilly vs. The Race Hustlers

Bill O’Reilly’s campaign to inculcate racism into society is in full swing. A few days ago, after wondering aloud whether Martin Luther King despised America, he accused millions of African-Americans of hating their country. Today, in his Talking Points Memo, he advances his argument to attack anyone who has the temerity to suggest that racism actually exists:

“As we’ve been reporting, millions of Americans of all colors are fed up with race baiters and accusations of racism.”

Who these millions are, O’Reilly doesn’t say. But he does list some of their “victims.” Here are a few with some related commentary I’ve added.

  • George W. Bush: Will speak at racist Bob Jones University but not the convention of the NAACP (five years in a row).
  • Ronald Reagan: Declared in 1980 that the Voting Rights Act had been “humiliating to the South.” Plus he was a staunch supporter of apartheid in South Africa.
  • Don Imus: Of “nappy headed hos” fame.
  • Trent Lott: Who thinks Strom Thurmond’s segregationist agenda would have solved our nation’s race problems.
  • John Gibson: Pleads with whites to have more children to keep America from being overrun.
  • Glenn Beck: Views the predominately black victims of Hurricane Katrina as scumbags.
  • Michelle Malkin: A Filipina, wrote a book defending the interment of Japanese-Americans during WWII.
  • Sean Hannity: Benefactor of neo Nazi/white supremacist Hal Turner.
  • Rush Limbaugh: Whose racist ranting about Donovan McNabb got him booted from football broadcasting. And who could forget “Barack the Magic Negro?”

These are the people O’Reilly is defending against charges of racism. He thinks it is inexcusable to label such people and thinking as racist. It makes you wonder how far someone would have to go before O’Reilly would concede that some form of prejudice is present. Instead, he considers these people to be pillars of racial harmony who are unfairly tarnished by those he calls “race hustlers.” He clearly prefers that people refrain from any mention of racism. He insists that even raising the issue will “hurt minorities by inhibiting sincere discussion.” In other words, Shut Up! O’Reilly warns that dire circumstances await those who fail to heed his demand:

“The result of all this garbage is that millions of white Americans will no longer even think about discussing race with blacks. It is far too dangerous.”

Once again, O’Reilly doesn’t offer even a hint of who these millions are. But no matter, O’Reilly’s solution to racial discord is to never mention it. On this he is in agreement with William Kristol’s call for benign neglect on matters of race. And just to be sure you don’t think he’s fooling around, he lays down this threat:

“…you race hustlers out there, you race baiters, you better watch it. We’ve got your number, and the gloves are off.”

O’Reilly loves to throw his weight around. Here are a few of his classic threats from the past:

  • “If you dodge us, it is at your peril.” – Directed at Democrats who decline to appear on his program.
  • “No one on this earth is going to block a shot from The O’Reilly Factor. It is not going to happen.” – Directed at anyone standing between his camera and some object of his infection.
  • “Every corrupt media person in this country is on notice, right now. I’m coming after you…I’m going to hunt you down.” – Directed at his legions of enemies in the press.
  • “There is a chance that before this presidential election year is over somebody is going to get hurt.”Directed at presidential candidates.
  • “Every company in America should be on its knees thanking Jesus for being born.” – Directed at businesses that deign to wish their customers a Happy Holiday.

And then there’s this old favorite:

For the record, O’Reilly has now referenced Rev. Wright in 11 of the 14 Talking Points Memos he has done since the story broke a month ago. There certainly couldn’t be any racist intent in that. His repeated assertions as to the racism of Rev. Wright, and by extension, Barack Obama, don’t count in his campaign against calling people racist. Or perhaps it only counts when someone other than himself is doing the calling.

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American Idol Joins The Race For President

American IdleOn Wednesday American Idol will present its second annual “Idol Gives Back” broadcast wherein viewers are asked to call in donations to benefit a banquet of charitable enterprises. This year will feature appearances by all three remaining presidential contenders, John McCain, Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama. The taped segment by Obama says in part…

“I’d like to say a few words not just as the father of two young girls who are big American Idol fans, but as someone who cares deeply about what tonight’s show is all about. Whether it’s across the street or around the world, Idol Gives Back is proving that when ordinary people come together, they can do extraordinary things.”

I suppose this is one way for Fox to get Obama to go on their network. Of course it is the Fox Entertainment Network, not the Fox News Channel. It is still a poke in the eye to Chris Wallace of Fox News Sunday (which does air on FEN), whose juvenile Obama Watch is still counting down the days that Obama has not appeared on that program. Hang tough, Barack. Let Wallace run that Obama Watch clock up another 10,000 ticks.

Personally, I can’t stand American Idol. I think it trivializes art by pitting artists against one another. And I think the contestants are cliche cutouts who rely on theatrics and vocal bling rather than talent and originality. Idols are not created by game shows. They are adopted by fans who are moved by an artist with whom they connect emotionally.

That said, it is admirable that the wealth that flows to this program is being directed to people who are suffering and in need of advocates. Sure, it is also a big advertisement for the program, the network, and the sponsors who will claim credit for the event. But in the end there will be some relief provided for the recipients of the donations collected from this program. Unless, of course, there isn’t. From the New York Times:

“But even as ‘American Idol” and Fox Broadcasting prepare for their second annual star-studded ‘Idol Gives Back’ appeal on Wednesday, officials at the charity have declined to release a formal accounting of last year’s effort.”

The article goes on to say that most of the targeted charities have expressed satisfaction with the distribution of last year’s donations, but it would be nice to have some documentary evidence that they are successfully administrating these funds. Last year $76 million was raised, and estimates are that the figure will increase this year to $100 million. That’s a lot of money not to be fully accounted for.

Update: As it turns out, the jam-packed entertainment bonanza that Idol producers put on last last was so pressed for time that all three presidential candidates were cut out of the program. Thank God they made time for Celine Dion, Miley Cyrus, and Snoop Dogg.

Bill O’Reilly Asks: Did Martin Luther King Despise America?

In the event that anyone requires further evidence of Bill O’Reilly’s overt prejudice, he was kind enough to oblige last week with yet another example.

On the 40th anniversary of the assassination of Rev. Martin Luther King, O’Reilly distills the legacy of King down to one question. The question O’Reilly considers the key to understanding King’s life-long work is whether or not King despised America. And how does O’Reilly’s respond? “…that question is very difficult to answer precisely.”

There is nothing new about O’Reilly spewing vitriolic diatribes accusing his perceived enemies in the Culture War of hatred and treason. But choosing this occasion to sully King’s reputation sets a new low, even for O’Reilly. However, O’Reilly isn’t satisfied with merely smearing one of our nation’s greatest voices for freedom and equality, he also denigrates the whole of the population for which King fought and died. In discussing African-Americans and others who defended the reputation of Rev. Jeremiah Wright, O’Reilly used his Talking Points Memo last Friday to disparage the very people most harmed by the sort of prejudice that is still with us forty years after King’s death.

O’Reilly: “Now there is no question that millions of Americans do despise the USA. I hate to say it, but it’s true. And they see themselves as victims of oppression from a corrupt government and system.”

In context, there is no question that the millions to whom O’Reilly refer, who despise America and see themselves as victims, are African-Americans. These are the same Americans that surprised O’Reilly by how civilized they were when dining at Sylvia’s in Harlem:

O’Reilly: “I couldn’t get over the fact that there was no difference between Sylvia’s restaurant and any other restaurant in New York City. I mean, it was exactly the same, even though it’s run by blacks, primarily black patronship.”

O’Reilly has been hammering the Wright issue ever since it broke. Of the thirteen Talking Points Memos he delivered on the Factor since the pastor became news, Wright was raised in ten of them. That’s 77% of the signature essays he reads at the beginning of every program. Every other issue, from Iraq to health care to immigration to the election, etc., is subjugated to the national catastrophe of a few sermons by a Chicago pastor. This is a pretty good indicator of what O’Reilly thinks is important.

Obviously, what he thinks is important is repeatedly pouring salt into racial wounds and driving Americans further apart. This has become the recognized mission of the O’Reilly Fracture. And just when you thought he could sink no lower, he condemns millions of black Americans for hating their country. In the process he has the arrogance to speak for King. After showing a video clip of John McCain being booed for his opposition to a federal MLK holiday, O’Reilly asserts that…

“Dr. King, of course, would have forgiven John McCain.”

Isn’t it wonderful that we have O’Reilly here to channel America’s martyred heroes? Especially those whom he believes might have despised America.

God Is Not Government … Yet!

An organization called “God Is Not Government” is placing an ad today in Arizona’s Prescott Daily Courier. It is timed to coincide with a campaign visit by John McCain. The ad proclaims that Mitt Romney is “utterly unacceptable” as McCain’s running mate and that choosing him would be a “deal breaker” insofar as their support is concerned.

The funny thing about the God Is Not Government PAC is that the name does not mean what you might expect. It sounds like a declaration of principle but, if you look a little deeper, it actually appears to be a lament. Their website describes their mission as…

“…the election to Congress of men and women who hold conservative beliefs on both moral and economic issues.”

It goes on to state that they will not support any candidate who will not affirm that they are…

“…pro-life, pro-family and stand firmly against the unbiblical welfare state that is destroying the spiritual and economic greatness of our nation.”

In other words, they are an organization that is devoted to electing candidates who are committed to bringing biblical law to Washington, DC. So if God Is not government now, it will be by the time the God Is Not Government PAC is through with it. They even endorsed the only preacher to run in this campaign cycle, Mike Huckabee.

Some of the PAC’s member organizations include religious conservative stalwarts: Concerned Women for America, Faith2Action, Mission America, Republicans for Family Values, Defend the Family, Operation Rescue, and Paul Weyrich’s Free Congress Foundation. Weyrich had actually endorsed Romney earlier in the primary. Ironically, it seems that Romney’s endorsement of McCain has caused Weyrich to flip.

Despite all the tongue-wagging hyperbole, I see this whole charade as a face-saving effort on the part of the social conservatives. The less-than-cordial relationship between McCain and Romney already makes it highly unlikely that McCain would choose him as a running mate. With this show of false bravado, the theo-cons can claim victory when McCain chooses somebody else. Then they can pretend to support McCain as a reward for his acceding to their demands. It’s their way of justifying the compromise of their principles for supporting the candidate they have been railing against for months.

It’s groups like the God Is Not Government PAC that inspired the prayer, “Jesus, save me from your followers.”

The Media Make Terrible Tax Accountants

Politico’s Ben Smith examines Hillary Clinton’s tax returns and finds this interesting:

The interesting part, of course, is the roughly $18 million that the summary doesn’t account for.

Jeez, I wouldn’t let him balance a ten year old’s checkbook.

Here’s the meat of the controversy. Financial guru Smith adds up these numbers from Clinton’s summary of her tax records for the past eight years:

  • Senator Clinton’s Senate Salary: $1,051,606
  • President Clinton’s Presidential Pension: $1,217,250
  • Senator Clinton’s Book Income: $10,457,083
  • President Clinton’s Book Income: $29,580,525
  • President Clinton’s Speech Income: $51,855,599

He comes up with $94,162,063. That’s about $16 million less than the $110 million her returns show. Smith’s first mistake is that his calculation shows an $18 million discrepancy instead of the actual $16 million. But beyond that simple math error, Smith is imagining a controversy where none exists. A quick look at the returns show that the Clinton’s earned $16.5 million dollars on capital gains and real estate investments. They were accounted for in the summary which was prefaced with “Including, among other items…” The summary never pretended to itemize every source of revenue.

Controversy solved! But not until after the media picks up this non-scandal and turns it into another prospective Whitewater. Dick Morris, in an appearance on Fox News, jumped on it about 30 seconds after the returns were made public. He went on to allege that the “missing” funds were connected to all manner of evil like phone scammers and the Emir of Dubai.

This article is not intended to defend Clinton, but to indict the media. This sort of ignorant, sensationalized, pseudo-analysis can and will be used to damage any candidate the press wants to disparage. It needs to be exposed and should never be tolerated.

When I (a lowly artist) can quickly and easily see the explanation that professional journalists, with resources to consult experts, cannot see, it is nothing less than shameful on the part of the press. This is why media reform should be at the top of every activists list of priorities.

Rupert Murdoch: It’s Very Hard To Be Neutral

News Corp. Chair, Rupert Murdoch, lets loose with another truth eruption. He previously confessed that he tried to shape public opinion on the war in Iraq. He also admitted that his new business channel would be business-friendly. And his second in command, Roger Ailes, tried to pass off this Orwellism:

Now Murdoch strikes again. At an appearance at Georgetown University he addressed a matter that most conscious observers settled long ago – the ideological impartiality of Fox News.

It’s very hard to be neutral. People laugh at us because we call ourselves ‘Fair and Balanced.’ Fact is, CNN, who’s always been extremely liberal, never had a Republican or conservative voice on it. The only difference is that we have equal voices on both sides but that seems to have upset a lot of liberals.

It’s so hard to be neutral that Murdoch and Co. have stopped even trying. Well, he’s right about one thing – People are laughing at them for calling themselves ‘Fair and Balanced.’ When people hear this latest blather they are going to double up with guffaws.

For Murdoch to allege that CNN “never had a Republican or conservative voice” is the peak of hilarity. What side of the aisle does he think Robert Novak was on? Or Pat Buchanan? Or Mary Matalin? Or Tucker Carlson? Or Lynne Cheney? Or Lou Dobbs? All of these uber-rightists were veterans of CNN and were featured regularly.

And for some real comedy, chuckle along with Murdoch’s claim that Fox has equal voices. Perhaps he thinks that whatshisname (Sean Hannity’s sidekick) balances out Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, Laura Ingraham, John Gibson, Greta Van Susteren, Brit Hume, Steve Doocy, Ann Coulter, Dick Morris, Tony Snow, Rick Santorum, Robert Novak, Karl Rove, etc.

I’m crackin’ up just thinking about it.

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Murdoch Holds Fundraiser For Obama – No, Not That Murdoch

I don’t know quite what to make of this, but I thought it should be noted:

Television tycoon Elisabeth Murdoch, daughter of News Corp. owner Rupert Murdoch, is holding a fundraiser for Barack Obama at her London home.

Maybe it’s just a typical rebellious child, establishing a separate identity from her famous father. Maybe it’s a way of having the family cover all the bases. Maybe Hell froze over. Or maybe she just really likes Obama.

Stay tuned.

Fox News No Longer Number One

Continuing a long pattern of decline, Fox News once again underperforms its competitors. The first quarter of a presidential election year can generally be expected to boost viewership for news networks. For CNN and MSNBC this has been markedly apparent. For Fox News…not so much.

As a result of the hyper-growth of CNN’s prime time schedule (persons 25-54), they actually finished ahead of Fox News for the first time in six years. Another quarter like this and Fox will finish third behind both CNN and MSNBC.

The stagnation of Fox’s audience can be traced in part to the downward spiral of the Bush presidency. Fox has long tethered its fortunes to a conservative ideology that has fallen out of favor. Now they have trouble attracting either viewers or guests from the more moderate and/or progressive population. They also have an age problem. Fox News has both the oldest skewing audience and the oldest prime time line-up. That combination produces a staleness that is reflected in their ratings. It’s ironic that the Republican candidate for president is also the oldest to ever run for the office. He should be a perfect fit for Fox, if not for America.

In addition to CNN’s win over Fox in the average ratings statistics, Fox has fallen to fourth place (with 24.5 million) in cumulative ratings, behind CNN (33.2), MSNBC (28.4), and Headline News (25.9). Cumes represent the number of the network’s unique viewers and are arguably a more precise measure for news programming (explanation here).

So contrary to the boasting of Fox News narcissists, they are not the ratings juggernaut that they would have you believe. In fact, sooner than many might have predicted, they will be reduced to also-rans. In advance of that you can expect that they will fiddle with their programming to deliver even more sensationalistic, high decibel, conflict-driven fare that virtually drips with steamy melodrama, controversy and a nightmarish dread of Muslims, immigrants and Democrats.

Fasten your seatbelts.

Clinton Continues Embrace Of Right-Wing Media

Hillary Clinton and her campaign has displayed the most overt fondness for right-wing media of all the presidential contenders, including Republicans. She has agreed to participate in Fox News-sponsored debates when her Democratic colleagues have declined. She accepted donations from Rupert Murdoch. Just last week she sat for an interview with the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, and its owner Richard Mellon Scaife, who has spent hundreds of millions of dollars to smear her and her family.

This morning Scaife published an editorial that praised Clinton as having “courage and confidence” and proclaimed that his impression of her is now “a very favorable” one. Can Scaife expect this endorsement to be taken seriously when he has previously accused her of everything from financial corruption to murder? A couple of other inconsistencies to ponder: Scaife is in the midst of an ugly divorce with an ex who supports Obama. And Scaife has contributed the maximum allowed donation to John McCain.

Also this morning, Clinton surrogate and Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell appeared on Fox & Friends to say that “Fox has done the fairest job, has remained most objective of all the cable networks.”

Perhaps Rendell was referring to the steady stream of Obama bashing as evidence of their fairness.

John McCain’s Ad: Connecting The Dots

Upon closer examination of John McCain’s new campaign ad, some interesting messages become apparent…

John McCain's Kool-Aid

Announcer: Keep that faith. Keep your courage. Stick together. Stay strong. Do not yield […] we’ll never surrender.

Was that McCain or Jim Jones? No matter. The ad goes on to ask, “What must a president believe about us?” John McCain believes we’re idiots whose views are irrelevant. When challenged on the state of the war in Iraq he harrumphes, “We’re succeeding. I don’t care what anybody says.” Then he yells at the kids to get off of his lawn.

The ad closes with the redundant declaration that McCain is “the American president Americans have been waiting for.” I suppose he’s just being precise so you don’t think that he’s talking about the Swedish president Americans have been waiting for; or the American president Brazilians have been waiting for.

Maybe we should appreciate his specificity, or maybe he just needs everything explained to him twice. He’s already confessed that he doesn’t understand important subjects like the economy or AIDS prevention, and he’s clearly demonstrated his ignorance of the Middle East. If he is the president Americans have been waiting for (which should read “the president for whom Americans have been waiting”), then we have seriously lowered our standards. Cue H. L. Mencken:

“As democracy is perfected, the office represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. We move toward a lofty ideal. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.”

I thought that applied perfectly to Bush, but McCain is rapidly becoming a contender.